Where technology brought us 

Cannon Precision Manufacturing
PO Box 289
4th and Washington St
Keithsburg, IL 61442

Associated Environmental Management Services Inc
PO Box 586
1701 13 St
Viola, IL 61486

Edward Jones
1632 5th Avenue
Moline, IL 61265

Downtown Davenport Association
102 S. Harrison St.
Davenport, IA 52801

Donald J. McNeil, D.D.S.
1030 41st Street
Moline, IL 61265

Valley Dental Center
Dr. Margarida R. Laub
Route 6, Coal Valley, IL

Sylvan Learning Center
1035 Lincoln Road
Bettendorf, IA

Camcorders led to home video revolution

By Tory Brecht, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

In the 1975 book, ``Future Facts,'' author Stephen Rosen predicted miniature TV cameras would be developed that allowed families to ``use this new solid-state camera to make home movies for instant replay on the household TV set.''

He was right, although it took nearly a decade for his vision to come true.

Prior to the camcorder, family events typically were captured on grainy 8mm film that had to be processed and shown through a projector. In the late '70s, home video cameras were available, but were extremely bulky and expensive, said Eric Pohl, a camcorder repair technician with United Camera Repair in Rock Island.

``You had to buy a massive video camera, with no tape, that would be plugged into the home VCR for playback,'' he said. ``They still used vacuum-tube technology, which is why they were quite large.''

By the early to mid-'80s, vacuum-tube technology was being replaced by silicon chips, and the cameras could be plugged directly into televisions. This was the birth of the camcorder.

Early camcorders, which were quite large, were extremely expensive, Mr. Pohl said. Low-end cameras ran between $5,000 and $6,000.

Today's low-end cameras, which are smaller and use 8mm tape for better quality, can be purchased for a few hundred dollars.

``Like computers and other electronics, the technology is more available, which drives down the price,'' said Mr. Pohl.

In ``Future Facts,'' Mr. Rosen also saw the potential of video beyond home entertainment.

``The portability, compactness, long life and low power required for such a video system also makes it very suitable for applications in law enforcement, security surveillance, space systems and related fields,'' he wrote. ``In his novel `1984,' George Orwell imagined video `bugs' in citizens' homes. But tiny TV cameras could dot our roads for highway surveillance and safety, or probe our bodies to facilitate exploratory operations.''

Another result of the camcorder boom is that nearly any event, anywhere, can be captured on video. This has had impacts on the justice system, following the taping of the Rodney King beating in California. Entertainment has also changed, with shows like ``America's Funniest Home Videos'' and real-life drama stories like ``World's Scariest Police Chases.''

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.