YouTube VHS Mode Celebrates The Videocassette

YouTube is celebrating the 57th anniversary of the videocassette recorder with VHS mode.

For many people who use the video sharing site on a regular basis, the idea of recording a video using analog equipment is probably archaic. In addition to providing severely downgraded picture quality, videotapes were also prone to break at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason.

In an effort to celebrate the birth of the videocassette and give users a taste of what the world was like before the arrival of YouTube, select videos have been equipped with VHS mode. Now everyone can experience those bygone days with the click of a button.

Here’s YouTube’s official press release about the mode:

“Not too long ago, the video tape was the media of choice for living rooms around the world. In celebration of the 57th birthday of the first commercial video cassette recorder, check out a fun VHS mode for the YouTube player to relive the magic feel of vintage video tapes. On select videos, you’ll find a VHS button in the bottom right of the player — just click to turn back the clock and enjoy the static and fuzzy motion of the VHS era.”

Not only will those unfamiliar with the format experience poor video quality and all sorts of fuzzy artifacts, they will also see what their favorite video might have looked like when the tape was paused. It’s not really useful for anything, but it should elicit a nostalgic sigh from those who once spent a lot of time rounding out their sprawling VHS collections.

Unfortunately, not every video on YouTube comes equipped with the VHS mode. The Saturday Night Live ad for Pharrell and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” allows users to switch over by selecting the videocassette icon located next to the video quality gear. You’ll need to head to the YouTube page for it to work; the option isn’t available on embedded clips.

VHS Mode YouTube

Additionally, a review for the Pixar movie Ratatouille also comes equipped with VHS mode. If nothing else, it should give those who have never encountered a videocassette something to play with for a few minutes. However, only a select few will truly appreciate what YouTube has done.

The first videotape recorder was created by AMPEX Corporation back in 1956. Since the unit came with an extremely high price tag, only television stations could afford to purchase the machine. However, the folks at JVC would later develop the Video Home System (VHS) for consumers in the 70s. Although VHS and Betamax engaged in a brief format war, JVC’s creation would ultimately be adopted by the movie industry.

While the format is considered to be dead, many people continue to collect movies on VHS. Several festivals and conventions have sprung up around the hobby in recent years.

What do you think about YouTube’s VHS mode? Do you remember recording television shows and movies using videocassettes?

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