Video Revolution: Cassettes and Recorders

March 26, 1971

Report Outline
Rush to Enter Video-Recording Market
Evolution of Audio-Visual Recording
Unresolved Problems: Cost and Content
Special Focus

Rush to Enter Video-Recording Market

Network television has reigned for two decades as the country's dominant mass medium, but now there is a pretender to the throne. It is cassette television, or as one writer describes it, “video on demand.” Videocassettes look like the audio tape cassettes that are making deep inroads into the long-playing record market; the only important difference between them is that videocassettes transmit, through a playback unit, motion pictures as well as sound to a television receiver.

Videocassettes thus promise to liberate the television viewer from programing dictated by the networks or local stations. As things stand now, the viewer can only switch channels or turn off his set if the programs being aired are not to his liking. When the cassette era dawns, he will be able to watch a pre-recorded program of his choice and at a time of his choosing. That particular dawn has yet to break; even so, extravagant claims already are being made for cassette television. For example:

“What [cassette TV] can do …is to take the place of the circulating library, the cinema and the long-playing record. …It could be the most important thing in communications since the cathode-ray tube.”—The Economist of London.

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