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A Timeline History: VHS-C

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By Christian Roemer

Recently, I wrote a blog post about the many types of tapes that have been used over the years in camcorders. From regular VHS tapes to MicroMVs, the cartridges that hold videos have gone through quite the transformation since the early 80s.


If you read that article, you’ll know that my absolute favorite camcorder tape format is the VHS-C. I love this format because it’s like Russian nesting dolls, but for home media. You have a little tape that goes in your camcorder to record the videos. Then, when you want to watch what you filmed, you take out the miniature tape, put it inside a regular-sized tape, and pop the whole kit and caboodle in your VCR, and voila! You’re watching stuff on the TV.

There’s something awesome to me about miniature things that use adaptors. I just like them.
Anywho, here’s a rough timeline of VHS-C’s swift rise and devastatingly abrupt demise.

1982 

JVC releases a brand new format for the world to admire: VHS-C. The C stands for Compact, because the tape cartridge is less than half the size of a normal VHS. If you recall from other blog posts, JVC also invented the regular VHS format, so the VHS-C can be considered a natural improvement on their original technology.


1987 

As a further improvement, JVC developed S-VHS-C, which added a new letter to the ever-lengthening acronymic derivatives of VHS. In this case, the S stands for Super, which I think is pretty cool. The S-VHS-C was basically identical to regular VHS-C--visually, you can’t really tell the difference--but S-VHS-C boasts more colors, higher picture quality, and better light differentiation. All of those weird jargony words mean that S-VHS-C videos looked better than regular VHS.


2016 

Even though VHS had been on its way out for a long time, 2016 marks the true end of the era. The last company that was still manufacturing VHS-C tapes hadn’t quite gotten the memo that iPhones basically made camcorders pointless. The message finally made it to them via carrier pigeon, I can only assume, and they discontinued production. RIP VHS.


VHS-C lived a charmed, albeit woefully short life. Embroiled in constant competition with the Video8 format, it never really reigned supreme over any other home video format. Since my parents had a somewhat frightening aversion to acquiring any sort of cool gadgets that I could brag about to my friends, I never got to experience the first-hand awesomeness of VHS-C. My friend’s parents had one, and it was a blast to play with.


While its life accomplishments won’t necessarily live on through the annals of time as a revolutionary technological innovation, VHS-C was a neat little thing while it lasted. I still like it, and the format will live on forever in my heart. 


Isn’t that the best any of us can really hope for, after all?

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