Amazing 1980s In-Dash TV For Your Car
In those halcyon 80s summers, it was important to show all your neighbors how great your car stereo was. Wait... "great" isn't the word... Oh yeah: "Bowel-rattlingly loud" is what I meant to say. Not much has changed, I guess. The people in my neighborhood now welcome summertime by dropping the car windows and pumping out anti-social women-hating music (except the guy who blasts 70s Joni Mitchell - I still hope to meet that guy).
Back to suburban 80s Chicago, and showing off your car stereo. The sheer amplitude made it easy to notify the neighborhood that your car stereo could pump out some serious decibels. That's what bums me out about this amazing car stereo with a built-in 1" black & white CRT television. No one is going to know that you have the coolest car stereo ever unless they shove their head into your car and squint really hard to make out the picture.
I'm amazed at how nice this stereo looks. Back then, off-brand gear usually betrayed its cheaper pedigree by taking shortcuts in quality. Check out this interior shot to see just how the engineers at Yoko were able to cram in a fully functional tape deck and a mini CRT - they even thoughtfully included a magnifier for the tiny screen! I think it goes without saying that this would have always been an illegal device, but it would have been nice to be able to at least monitor the soundtrack of your favorite TV broadcasts (especially live local sports) while you drive.
If I had a car this could fit in, I'd absolutely rig it up and risk the wrath of the local police. Of course the analog tuner wouldn't get anything except our one remaining low power broadcast TV station. Not to worry - check out the jack marked "VCR" on the front. That's an aux in so you can plug in a portable video deck (oh, murder!), your camcorder, or how about a DTV converter (powered through you cigarette lighter, of course) with an antenna? Better still - hook up an old black and white Pong console, many of which ran off of batteries anyway.
Today it's easy to be unimpressed about car video. We've all seen a disturbing number of mini-vans outfitted with seat-back DVD players (just can't get those kids into reading a book, eh?), and of course anyone can whip out a phone or laptop to watch video on the go. The desire has always been there, it was just so much harder to achieve back in the 80s. There are probably a LOT of reasons this never became a standard car add-on.
Oh, and to close with possibly the retro-nerdiest thing I've ever said here, You know what I really wish? I wish that deck were compatible with the strange video format of Pixel Vision (the toy camera that recorded video on regular audio cassettes). The Fisher-Price lo-fi camera's grainy output would look pretty sweet on a 1" screen.
Thanks to the guys at the audiokarma.org forums for digging up these photos.