TMCnet Feature
April 16, 2013

Google Gets Old School with VHS Effect for YouTube

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Anyone who uses the Google (News - Alert) search engine (and, isn’t that everyone?) knows that the search giant likes to mark anniversaries and special events with custom Google doodles, which are sometimes animated, sometimes not and always rather charming.

Now, Google is taking that memorial spirit to its YouTube (News - Alert) division, with the launch of a VHS filter for YouTube videos.

Want to make your favorite angry cat video look like its 1982? No problem—just click the converter button at the bottom of the player to climb into the way-back machine and enjoy fuzzy, standard-definition nostalgia. 

“Not too long ago, the video tape was the media of choice for living rooms around the world,” the company said in a blog. “In celebration of the 57th birthday of the first commercial video cassette recorder, check out a fun VHS mode for the YouTube player to relive the magic feel of vintage video tapes. On select videos, you'll find a VHS button in the bottom right of the player – just click to turn back the clock and enjoy the static and fuzzy motion of the VHS era.”

The new tape mode is, as noted, nominally in honor of the VHS tape turning 57—not exactly the typical milestone year but a far larger number than most of us would initially have thought. VHS became popular of course in the 80s after smacking down rival home video format Betamax in a technology battle royale. It then went on to give Blockbuster its primary business model before giving way, inexorably, to DVDs and now Blu-Rays.

But its history is actually much deeper.

Technically, VHS goes all the way back to April 14, 1956, when the Ampex (News - Alert) VRX-1000, the first commercial videotape recorder, was demoed at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters Convention.

Later renamed the Mark IV, it sold for an astounding $50,000.

What a difference a half century makes. It does give one hope, however, that sooner or later those $25,000 4K Ultra HD televisions may come down below the $100 mark. Someday.

Edited by Braden Becker
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