I recently attended a business meeting in a neighboring city and got a surprise from the gentleman who was presenting some facts and ideas over the course of a three hour period. During his examples of companies and how technology changes buying habits, he mentioned he was involved back in 1982 with a Video Station franchise. That caught my attention and though I still took some notes and paid attention to the course material and how the information could help me in my own daily office job, I just had to approach him after the course and get some insider VHS statistics.
To stock a shelf with the recent release of the box-office smash hit, Raiders of The Lost Ark, the store had to shell out $179.95 to acquire each individual tape. If I remember correctly, many chain stores would have a good half dozen copies on the shelves in those early days and in the later ones I recall some big releases were guaranteed to be on the shelf at all times.
How much to rent that new release? $10 per night and make sure you rewind that sucker or it’s an extra $2 penalty upon it’s return. Remember those stickers that the chains would put on the tapes….
Now before you even spend that ten dollars to keep the family happy tonight, let’s not forget the yearly membership. $39.95 gets you that card good for twelve months. No machine? No worries. So how about renting the machine and five movies for the weekend. That’ll cost you $39.95 plus taxes. I remember these days where mom would take me to the local store and bring the whole outfit home. I think she had to leave a sizable deposit on that rental as well. I fondly recall renting The Dirty Dozen and The Wild Bunch among so many others in those early years when I’d play those rentals repeatedly over the course of the weekend to get my monies worth.
How about a Beta HiFi machine? Apparently the store had one worth a whopping $2499.95. I never knew one family in our circle of friends that had a beta machine. I just recall the small tapes beside the bigger ones on the movie store shelves that disappeared after the craze really took off and like TV’s, most homes seemed to have one of those monstrous machines sitting atop the TV after a few years went by. The one thing that the VHS stores did help fuel was my love of the movie poster though I found myself eventually looking down my nose at them knowing they weren’t “original” copies like those issued to the movie theaters……. yes I was a know it all teenager.
My first official VHS tape bought and purchased. That’s easy. The Dirty Dozen and thanks to Dad for that even though I am quite sure he shelled out far too much money to keep this movie crazed kid happy. Thanks Dad.
Slap Shot, The Exorcist, Airplane, Death Wish, The Wickerman, The Godfather 1 and 2, The Thing(1982), The Evil Dead and so many others come to mind that I saw on the machine that was quickly revolutionizing how we could watch movies. And for this teenager, uncut!
Once my parents blessed our home with our very own machine came the blank tape for recording the late, late show. Commercials and all. I still remember the film that happened to be my first attempt at an overnight recording. The reason was of course it had Charlton Heston and I had yet to see the Agony and The Ecstacy.
Like many of you old enough to recall these early days, I suspect you too went down to the store and bought a pack of those blank VHS tapes to get all your favorite shows and movies recorded. I know I had plenty of titles recorded. Three to a tape when the clock was set to the 6 hour setting.
Fun to reminisce…….. any stories of your own to share about those early days of the VHS tape?
I remember my first video recorder in 1976 – this is before VHS . It was a massive machine (made by Phillips) with the one drawback. The maximum recording time was one hour – you couldn’t tape a whole movie! AND a tape cost £26!!!!
My first VHS recorder was in 1979. And, yes, I remember that 6 or 8 hours was the most you could record on,long play.
1 hour!!! Now that would be frustrating. Expensive too for those upcoming mini series that ruled the stations late in the decade like Roots.
Cool post, Mike! And I have LOTS of memories…but surprise, they’re all Beta! My Dad was convinced by an electronics store clerk to go with Beta (this was in 1984), and that’s the VCR he gave to us that Christmas morning. I’d discover later that the format was just then on its way out…but that didn’t stop me from buying a Beta recorder when I first moved out on my own in 1986. My first recording? An Ohio State college football game, which I still have the tape of. My friend was so amazed when he saw that tape, he went out the next day and bought a Beta machine, too. My first Beta movie purchase was a cheap Hitchcock copy of The Man Who Knew Too Much from Crown Books, the 1934 version…this was before I knew anything about public domain copies. And yes, I still have that Beta machine, and a few Beta tapes as well!
Thanks. I know Mom would let me pick up those bargain bin public domain titles. Earliest one I recall might have been the Kirk Douglas feature The Big Trees. I even have an early VHS of Plan Nine and the funny thing is that it doesn’t mention Ed Wood. It’s before the Wood movement that began with The Golden Turkey Awards as the worst director.
That’s pretty funny about your copy of Plan 9! And oddly enough, I watched The Big Trees in a college class I was taking back in the 80s…and I’m sure it was presented on VHS! I’m prepping for a series of posts on first/last movies I bought on various formats…you now know what my ‘first Beta’ post will reveal!
I remember the (name withheld) store in Norwich, UK. Local store. Still exists (hence name withheld!!). Anyway, early 1980s it was in a very old building, in the city centre. Mainly hi-fi etc but with a top floor accessible by a firetrap stairwell that was suddenly crammed with all these new fangled video tapes in huge black plastic shiny boxes that were all broken and falling apart. And I mean crammed – there was barely space for one 13 year old kid to squeeze between the shelves. Banned UK video nasties were available under the counter and cheerfully rented to my 16 year old brother. ‘Last House on the Left’ ‘Evil Dead’ etc. What else? ‘Beyond Evil’ with John Saxon & Lynda Day George, ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’, ‘A Touch of Satan’ from 1972, Andy Milligan’s ‘Blood’! And if you left it running after the movie was over you’d find it was taped over an old motor racing Grand Prix or some other show off UK TV. Yes, it was all over above board and highly legal! Great fun though!
I love the video nasties tag. We didn’t have that over here in Canada. I’ve seen that documentary about the video nasties and the trouble they caused across the pond.
Nice memories there….thanks for sharing.