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?