Monthly Archives: April 2013

Quasar VHS VCR No. VH-5100QW

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I picked this beast of a unit up earlier today. I actually found it at a little thrift shop a bit over a month ago, but I didn’t think I had enough money on me to purchase it right then. Electronics like this don’t move very fast there, so I figured there was a better than good chance it would still be there today. Obviously, it was, in the exact spot I left it, probably because it weighs roughly a thousand pounds.

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There’s no date on it, but apparently it hails from 1979. So, yeah, really early VCR. Just one look at it will tell you that. This thing is huge. I actually have an RCA VBT-200, the very first VHS VCR released in the U.S., from 1977, and it is, of course, of similar mighty heft (the VBT-200, however, has the manual tuner knobs on the front, a charming feature of the earliest VHS players, whereas this unit, sadly, does not). Look, I’m no muscleman, but I’m also not a weakling, but trust me when I say this thing heavy as hell.

The pricetag said $20, which I would have had no problem paying, except I couldn’t get the top-loader to pop up. So, while it powered up, I couldn’t really tell if the thing worked at all or not. So, I got it for $10, a price I’m perfectly happy with. Hell, I’d probably have paid the full $20 either way just because I like this thing so much.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I did eventually get the damn thing to open, and believe it or not, it loads, plays, rewinds and fast forwards without mauling the tape (Napoleon Dynomite on VHS lives to see another day!). And this thing has A/V jacks, which frankly, I had no idea were being used as early as ’79. The two “out” jacks were colored black, which I don’t have cords for, and I couldn’t get a pic to show up with my regular RCA cords. So, does the thing work or not? The world may never know.

Also, there’s microphone inputs and it only records in SP or LP. Just thought I should fit that valuable info in somewhere.

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There’s the General Electric 9-7675 VCR from 1987 that I talked about back on March 30th sitting on top of the Quasar for comparison. It’s bulk is considerably less in every way imaginable. In the background, you can see The Creeping Terror happily playing on the TV.

I don’t know how much this Quasar originally retailed for, but VCRs were pretty expensive in the early days. Like, over $1000 expensive, and boy, you sure got your money’s worth. We’re talking about a veritable tank here. I could probably wing a bowling ball at this thing and it’d come out still looking like a champ. Which would be a nice change of pace from the VCRs you can currently get at Wal-Mart. Look at them cross-eyed and they’ll practically explode.

Oh, and this beast generated a lot of heat and whatnot, and I think my basement is going to smell like ancient electronics for a month, now.

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Toshiba Betamax VCR No. V-M41 (1984)

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I found this Toshiba Betamax VCR at a thrift shop about 2 months ago. At that point,  my Super Betamax (the machine I normally used) was still working, but I figured it never hurts to have a back-up. I grabbed a random Beta tape that was there to test it, figuring if the thing ate it, I’d just pay the $1 for the tape. The VCR powered up, loaded the tape, rewound, fast forwarded, and ejected, all without exploding, but it didn’t seem to actually play the tape. Still for $15 (actually less, since this shop always knocks a few bucks off), I figured since it didn’t eat the tape, half the battle was already won. Of course, that was just bullshit on my part. I have no idea if that’s actually true or not, but I had to justify the purchase somehow. Besides, you never know for sure until you take it home and hook it up.

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The V-M41 is from 1984, and while it doesn’t appear to have been the highest-end Betamax ever made, I’ve heard these Toshiba’s were nice, solid units. Unfortunately, my first instincts were correct. It doesn’t actually play the tape, you get a split-second of screentime before it stops. Apparently, this is a common age problem with these units, though I’m not exactly sure if it’s the heads, belts, or what. It may be an easy fix, for all I know. No matter, I’m glad I bought it. It has a very cool, mid-80’s look to it. The front is kinda sloped, which doesn’t look all that impressive in the pictures, but in reality, I think, gives it a neat look.

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Another reason I’m glad I bought this machine is that it has a 12-channel selector. A common thing with VCRs at the time, but this one is specifically tailored to Northeast Ohio TV, which makes it completely worth the price to me. Take a look:

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Only the first six buttons are used: WKYC TV-3 (NBC affiliate), WEWS TV-5 (ABC affiliate), WJW TV-8 (then our CBS affiliate), WVIZ TV-25 (PBS affiliate), WUAB TV-43 (a very popular indie station), and WCLQ TV-61 (a less popular indie station). Unfortunately, WOAC TV-67 is MIA. Still, for all I know, the original owner taped Big Chuck & Lil’ John on TV-8, Superhost on TV-43, The Ghoul on TV-61, and maybe turned to TV-67 once or twice for The Cool Ghoul.

Then again, maybe the original owner wasn’t as weird as I am. No matter, I love this machine. Since it’s not Hi-Fi, which is really what I need at this point (even my currently non-working Super Betamax isn’t Hi-Fi), I don’t know if I’ll have it repaired, but just as a display piece I’m very happy with it.