Tag Archives: Videocassette recorder

Quasar VHS VCR No. VH-5100QW

qua1

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.

qua3 qua5

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.

qua6 qua7

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.

Advertisements

Toshiba Betamax VCR No. V-M41 (1984)

tos1

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.

tos5 tos4

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.

tos3

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:

tos2

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.

RCA VMT395 & General Electric 9-7675 VHS VCRs

Up till now, I’ve focused on cool things I’ve found on old videotapes. Now it’s time to look a bit on the old electronics side. I must apologize in advance if my pictures aren’t the greatest. For some reason, it’s a total pain-in-the-ass to get a decent VCR pic.

One of my hobbies that seems strange to some people is that I love collecting old VCRs. I think the fact I’ve gone through so many of them over the years has given me a weird affinity for them. Everytime I’m at a thrift store or the like and come across a unit that appeals to me and is a decent price, I pretty much have to buy it. Case in point: The two VCRs we’ll look at now.

rcavcr2

This first one I picked up several weeks ago for $10. Ten bucks is just a bit more than I like to pay for an untested unit, but I have no regrets. It’s not like it was a ton of money. Besides, I figured, even if it didn’t work, I’d rather have it in my hands than in a landfill somewhere,

It’s an RCA VMT395 HQ VHS VCR. Sucker even has Dolby stereo with the capability for noise reduction. It came with the original remote, but the thing was filthy enough that I could never in good conscience use it, even after a cleaning. There’s no date anywhere on the machine, but a bit of research indicates that it comes from 1986 or somewhere around that time-frame.

rcavcr1

Look at that, audio levels. When’s the last time VCRs came with that?  Given that and the number of functions this fella has leads me to believe that this may have been a relatively high-end unit for the time. I found a mega high-end unit for $5 a few months back (and which has become my all-time favorite VCR find for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that it performs beautifully and the number of functions it features is staggering), and while this RCA doesn’t feature as many functions as that one, it still does waaaay more than the cheapo VCRs being sold nowadays.

At the store where I found it, I grabbed a random VHS tape (one ostensibly used for testing) and tried out everything I could without hooking the unit up, and it seemed to play, rewind, fast forward, eject, etc. without issue. When I got it home, it did indeed work, although something in the store I didn’t notice was that while it rewound and such, it only did so with a fair bit of internal grinding.

When I tried the machine out again last week, it was no longer working properly, however. It didn’t eat any tapes, but it won’t actually play them, either. Oh well, still a pretty cool VCR.

This next machine I actually picked up yesterday, and I like it even more than the RCA.

gevcr2

It’s a General Electric 9-7675 3-Head HQ VHS VCR from 1987, also with Dolby stereo. I scored this sucker for $5, which is really my preferred amount to pay for untested VCRs. Well, I did test another random tape in it (should it have eaten the tape, I would have been out of one whole dollar), and this one seemed to work flawlessly. That doesn’t mean anything until you get it home and actually hook it up, of course.

gevcr3

Unlike the RCA, this one works like a champ. Really, I didn’t have any problems in any way. I didn’t try recording anything, but since I never buy old VCRs to record, that doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

gevcr1

This one doesn’t seem to be as relatively high-end as the RCA, though it still does more than the bare-minimum machines sold within the last several years. The great thing about many (but not all) VCRs manufactured in the late-70’s, throughout the 1980’s, and even into the early-90’s is that they were built to last. I’ve had fairly good luck finding working units, and even units that don’t work are often worth having repaired (should I feel the need to do so).

By the mid-90’s or so, these things were being manufactured so cheaply that you were almost better off junking a dead machine and just buying a whole new one. My personal indicator of a cheaply made VCR? Plastic casing. I almost always pass those up. There have been exceptions, but that’s my personal rule of thumb.

This GE though? Nice solid metal casing, the way it should be. I think my biggest surprise regarding this unit (besides the fact that it works so incredibly well) is actually that it’s a GE, which is a manufacturer I’ve never really had any problems, but not one I’ve ever paid much attention to as far as VCRs go. Zenith, RCA, Panasonic, Sony, sure, but GE for some reason I always sort of associated with lower-end/cheap models.

Maybe that was unfair, or maybe I just lucked out and found a well-maintained machine. I couldn’t say one way or the other. All I know is that the GE was $5 well, well spent.