Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Panasonic Blu-Ray 2008 or Sylvania VHS 1986?

A few weeks back, the high definition battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD players pretty much ended with HD-DVD on the canvas. A few days ago, pictures of the first consumer Blu-Ray recorder surfaced. It's the DMR-E700BD from Panasonic.

Normally, I wouldn't write about such a cutting edge device on Retro Thing. Granted, I'm looking forward to watching my favorite classic feature films in HD (I held off buying movies on DVD, waiting for better resolution), but what struck me about this model is that it's the spitting image of my first VCR from the 80's.

Woodgrain_vcr In 1986, I couldn't convince my parents to get a VCR. They didn't understand what it was for (we had only gotten color TV the year before), so I saved up my money for a year and bought my own. 

I finally got a store demo Sylvania top-loader VHS with hard-wired remote. Matsushita had rebadged my particular deck for many brands; Magnavox, Quasar, Montgomery Ward, JC Penny, Philco, Sylvania, GE, RCA - they were all the exact same silver deck. All a smart shopper had to do was wait for any of these brands to go on sale - they were all the exact same hardware inside.

Sadly I don't have a picture of the actual VCR that started me on my video career, but I bring this all up because the above Panasonic Blu-Ray player... that is to say the exponent of modern 21st century video reproduction... doesn't look too different from my Sylvania VCR from 1986. Is it a coincidence that Panasonic's parent company is Matsushita - the same folks who made my deck 20 years ago? Either they had a few 1980's VHS player carcasses left over, or Retro Thing is having a much larger impact than we thought.  ;)


Brown upholstered (!) Beta VCR

World's first commercial VCR

Looking back at the first video format war

VCR board games


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