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Video Equipment in the Last 100 Years

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By Dillon Wallace

A century is a long time for anything, particularly for video when you think about how far we’ve come. From the blurry, black and white “moving” images we started with over 100 years ago to where we’re at today with incredible ultra 4K high definition.

But how and when exactly did video cameras and its supporting tech get sleeker and better over the century?
For that, we’re going to have to flashback to the birth of television and video.

 

A moving picture

While the infamous Horse in Motion may be the first moving picture, the first film ever recorded was Roundhay Garden Scene, an 1888 short film directed by French inventor Louis Le Prince. And thanks to brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere in 1895, the first motion picture camera was invented. They combined film and projection into a single device called the cinematograph, which would go on to pave the way for the future of cinema as we know it.

 

In living color

For several decades, film and movies were black and white. So when the three-strip Technicolor was first introduced and commercialized in 1932, people were ecstatic. Finally, a picture that resembled real life. A few years later the Kodachrome was created by Kodak and went on to became the go-to for amatuer and home movie-making enthusiasts. The biggest motion pictures to use the technology were Fantasia (no surprise Disney was among the first for this innovation) and The Wizard of Oz.

 

For the general consumers, they’d have to wait until the early 50s until they could get their hands on the first commercially available color TV sets. Only there was one big problem, they were so pricey that hardly anyone but the elite owned one until they gained more affordable traction in the 60s.

 

The format wars

By the mid-to-late 70s, the war for home video entertainment was at an all time high. Sure, TVs were a common technology found  in the majority of homes. But the videotape was not. The format war between Sony’s Betamax and JVC’s VHS tape became the topic of technology connoisseurs everywhere. And while the Betamax was technically the greater technology specs-wise, it was also the pricier option. As a result, the VHS tape won out, enjoying more than a decade as the top format option for families across the world. Unfortunately, it too fell to a new format challenger, the DVD, by the late 90s. 

 

The digital era

We all know digital is king today, but when did the swap from analog to digital take place? While digital first debuted in the early 80s, it wasn’t until the early-mid 90s that it started to really come into focus. Film icons like Kodak and Nikon both released digital cameras intended for use by professional photojournalists. These cameras and the digital technology that accompanied them would go on to the consumer level by the mid 90s.

 

The first digital video camera to feature video compression was the Ampex DCT, released in 1993. This helped spur the digital wave by other camera pioneers, including Sony, JVC and Panasonic. These digital firsts originally recorded to optical disks and latter to flash memory as time and technology simultaneously progressed.

 

Tapeless video cameras

Early digital video cameras, while innovative for their time, still required the need for tape. But by 2003, these handheld camcorders were truly digital through and through. The introduction of these tape-less technological triumphs paved the way for use in home movie projects and professional film to run-and-gun live journalism and the birth of vlogging. 

 

The smart phone

By 2007, consumers were introduced to a new type of recording device. A device that wasn’t actually billed as a recording device at all, but rather, a phone. Apple’s first iPhone tore into the market and became the go-to tech device. More than a decade (and many iterations) later and the iPhone has improved so much that it’s camera (read cameras) are a thing of beauty. Now, everyone can capture amazing, cutting-edge photos and videos with a device sleek enough to fit easily in your pocket. That’s quite the century of video innovation.

 

A digital revolution

With the world living and breathing digital, it’s important to update old analog media to ensure that the aging technology lives on. So if you’ve got a treasure trove of old VHS tapes, photos and more, send them to us and we’ll digitize and preserve the memories they hold for another 100 years to come.

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