Where technology brought us 

Pathway Hospice
500 42
Rock Island, IL 61201

QC Carbide
1510 17 St
East Moline, IL 61244

Lyss Chiropractic
5500 30 Ave
Moline, IL 61201

Metro MRI
550 15 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Litton Life Support
2734 Hickory Grove Rd
PO Box 4508
Davenport, IA 52808

Spencer Bros. Disposal
New Windsor, IL

Mane Designs
Viola, IL

Quad-Cities Graduate Studies Center
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Taylor Freezers 1885 Earhart Dr
Sandwich IL 60548

Milan Surplus
I-280 Exit 15
Milan, IL 61264

Metro MRI
550 15 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home Inc.
614 Main St
Davenport, 52803

Ward Chiropractic
1802 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

VCR: a video convenience recorder

By Tim Rausch, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Tim Rausch / staff
They were heavy and full of metal parts, but the first domestic VCRs in the 1970s were reliable. Dave Peterson of Peterson Audio-Video of Geneseo said the old Panasonic and Sony recorders didn't go out of style because they broke -- they simply became obsolete as the technology improved.

They allow us to watch movies at our own convenience. They allow us to scan through television commercials. They allow us to watch our soap operas even after being on vacation for a week.

Video recording has been around since the 1950s, but didn't evolve into household video cassette recorders until the late 1970s.

Since the advent of their domestic use, VCRs have gone from large, expensive mechanical contraptions to sleek, cheaper electronic devices, said Dave Peterson of Peterson Audio & Video in Geneseo.

Mr. Peterson has seen the evolution of the VCR -- he went to one of the first VCR schools put on by Panasonic in St. Louis in 1977. In those days, there was only Panasonic's VHS and Sony's Beta formats.

Beta lost out in its bid to sweep the nation in the early 1980s, which left the VHS format in command.

The VCR brought with it a revolution in entertainment. Soon after, Hollywood favorites started to come out on tape for purchase or rent. Now movies that have lived their life at the cinemas come back a few months later on tape, making millions of dollars more for the industry.

For the consumer, it means watching films or TV shows at their convenience.

Mr. Peterson said we can now time delay our television watching and scan through the commercials -- watching programs in a shorter amount of time.

The early VCRs were $1,000 ticket items, Mr. Peterson remembered. The internal operation was largely mechanical, with metal parts controlled with buttons and knobs.

Since then, prices of VCRs have come down substantially. Mr. Peterson said the industry has been able to do that by replacing metal parts with plastic, and consolidating lots of parts into one.

What was once a transistor is now a computer chip, which means there are more circuits, but they take up less space. What was once a knob or button is now controlled by remote -- with on-screen programming, no less.

The new machines are made for price more than service, Mr. Peterson said.

``Initially, when you go to buy a VCR, it is cheaper,'' he said. ``But when you go to service it, it makes it more expensive.''

Mr. Peterson said it was rare to have a VCR 20 years ago, but it is ``kind of a necessity now.'' It is common to have one in nearly every room of the house, just like TVs.

Digital recorders are blossoming as the VCR did, but Mr. Peterson isn't worried about the video recorder becoming a dinosaur too soon.

``So many people have VHS tapes,'' he said, ``it is going to be a while before the VCR is replaced.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.