The Sony CV-2000 Reel-to-Reel Video Recorder
By James Grahame
I rarely go nuts over a gadget, believe it or not. Rest assured that I would be like a kid in a candy store if I had a chance to play with a Sony CV-2000 reel-to-reel home video tape recorder (launched in August, 1965). This $695 unit enabled the average Joe or Jane to record their favorite television shows on half-inch reel-to-reel tape, so they could enjoy them again at a later date. In actuality, most CV-2000s were sold for industrial or educational purposes.
The CV-2000 recorded in black and white, matching the technology of the day. The tape ran at 7.5 inches/second, allowing a maximum of 1 hour on a 2,370 foot reel. Rewinding took seven minutes, and I dread to think what would happen if the tape transport jammed -- you'd have a roomful of tape spaghetti. Additional reels of tape cost $40, a princely sum at that time.
Sony also offered the compact VCK-2000 TV camera kit that included camera, tripod, and microphone. I suspect that somewhere out there a few lucky people have home videos recorded in the early 1960s. Of course, the quality was laughable by today's standards. Sony used rotary heads and double sideband FM recording to capture the video and audio signals, but the result was a mere 200 lines of horizontal resolution.
An essential feature of the modern (can I say that?) VCR is conspicuously absent: the clock timer. The designers were so focused on creating the video equivalent of the hi-fi reel-to-reel recorder that they missed the importance of unattended recording. Funnily enough, the clock was still missing when Sony rolled out the first Betamax VCR in 1975. But that's another story.