VCRs cost how much?!?

Apparently I'm not the only one in my family who's a pack-rat as I've recently realized that this is an inherited trait. On a recent trip back home, my dad and I pulled out a few boxes from the attic over the garage -- each box labeled with a specific year and full of receipts and paperwork from that particular year.

One of my favorite pieces of paper we came across was from the 1984 box -- a receipt for the first VCR my family owned.

Dated December 11, 1984, this VCR was purchased at a time when families were starting to cave into the technological pressure of owning such a machine. These days, I think it's next to impossible to buy a single VCR unit (one without a DVD player) but in recent years, I recall seeing them for sale for as little as $20-30. But as VCRs were first finding their ways into people's homes, take a look at what my parents paid...

Not only was I astonished that this VCR cost over $500, I was equally amazed that my money-conscious parents dropped that kind of money for a video recorder! On top of that, don't miss the original price which is crossed out near the top -- this thing was originally on the shelf for $900!

Just a year later, in the 1985 Sears Wishbook, the price of similar VCRs had dropped by a few hundred dollars at least.

December of 1984 would put me in third grade at the time. I still remember my dad picking me up from school that day in his red truck with the VCR was in the back. It may sound ridiculous, but there are sounds that VCR made that I can still hear today. To turn it on, you had to press "Power" as well as a "TV/VCR" button. When the power button was pressed, the VCR made a sound that I will never forget but is difficult to describe -- something like a combination between a very distant motor revving and a quiet zipper.

I've had a hard time finding a good picture of the actual VCR we had in our home. The best I've been able to come up with so far is the image below -- the corner of a larger picture with the VCR seen in the background sitting on top of the television.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised by the price of my family's first VCR. Look at what people shelled out for DVD players about ten years ago and flat screens and blu-ray players in more recent years. I can't begin to imagine what we'll all waste our money on next...


Rguy said...

HA, if you notice that one VCR's remote wasn't even IR. It's a wired remote. Our first VCR had one like that with what must have been a 20ft cable attached to it.

ren4thor said...

Hello how are you? I'm from Brazil excuse my poor English. I found this blog by accident because I was looking on google if I thought any pictures of the first VCR that my father brought from the United States. in this period we lived in a kind of dictatorship which was prohibited imports.

the first attempt to custom house seized a Betamax VCR that my father bought at Sears when he arrived at the airport here in São Paulo. On the second attempt he managed to pass by bribing officials with a few bottles of whiskey if not mistaken - I'll never know if this story was true, but anyway ...

It was a jubilation. but then began the problems. the first was the TV color system here that were PAL-M and the American VCR was logically prepared for the American system NTSC. ie, the films were all in black and white.

ok problem fixed a week after the goodwill of a technician who installed a key that alternated the two systems enabling the unit can play both the American tapes as Brazilian tapes.

the other constant problem that irritated sometimes was tracking. the videos were not always stable on the screen. several times it was necessary manual adjustment to achieve "tune" the film and not always worked. were several visits to the technician who finally managed to get the problem resolved satisfactorily.

the father of my friend was able to buy a more modern VCR from JVC that had wireless remote control, automatic tracking and never needed to take the technician to convert the video format to PAL-M.

when he asked me which model and brand of my VCR I could not answer. I just said my father bought at Sears the United States.

to this day I do not know who really manufactured this VCR device for Sears to sell. the model is the photo of the first illustrated in the catalog "A" that costs $200.

by any chance you could tell?

TL said...

I wish I had an answer for you but (much to my surprise) looking at full-size images of those two pages, the catalog does not mention the specific brand name or model. Sorry!

ren4thor said...

Its ok them... I suspect it is a Rebadged Goldstar since found a video on youtube of a similar model from 1988. Thanks anyway :)