The Glory of VHS

Hazy glory.
As far as picture quality, sound quality, and quality in general goes, who could argue VHS is better than DVD, or Blu-ray? Tapes (as we called them) really weren't all we crack them up to be (literally)... they easily tore and crinkled, VCRs thought they were snacks, and every time you played them they lost focus until they became muted, fuzzy, 90's glory. And yet, these black plastic bricks with tape loops in them were still downright cool.

Remember the problems? Bits of static might show up on the top and bottom of the screen, or the picture might double-up, or change weird colors, or flip like a cartoon book. Sometimes there'd be total stoppages of film or jams which would cause the television to go into black-out "damage control" and run its white or green letters across the top, reading "STOP.... PLAY..." in a desperate struggle to get the tape spinning again. Chance are, the sound of a tape getting stretched around the loops and "cranking" is burned into your memory forever.

You hit "Stop" and the thing would literally jam to a halt, and you'd hear it. You hit "Fast Forward" and you'd see the world like a caffeine addict. You hit "Rewind" and you'd see people speedily ripping off Michael Jackson. "Rewind" actually meant that the tape was being "rewound" then... something that gets lost on modern DVDs... (I think they're using the term "fast-backwards" now). But if it's still okay to say "You sound like a broken record," maybe "rewind" is here to stay too. I hope so. "Fast Backwards" is stupid.

But besides the technical glitches that we used to hate and now suddenly love... what we always loved about VHS was taping things. In this age where anything on TV can be Tivo'ed, paused, reserved, bought, Netflixed, On-Demand'ed...etc., there really is no reason to tape anything anymore. Back in the day though, if a movie was playing on TV, and you wanted to see it again, you had to stick in a VHS and "record" what you were watching, commercials and all (or you'd sit there hitting "stop" on all the commercials). If you weren't around to catch a program you wanted to see, you had to set the timer and pray it might record what you wanted. It never did, but there was always a chance. Half the movies we "owned" were taped off the TV...always in SLP mode (or Super Long Play)... because, any other mode just wasn't super enough.

But most of all, the reason we love VHS is because, if you're a 90s kid, all your big milestones and events from your childhood are probably still recorded on them-- birthdays, Christmases...etc. That has something to do with it fer sure. We will soon no doubt think back fondly on "that old rainbow-effect" of the DVD, but for now, I salute you, VHS and VCR... may your green 12:00am display forever blink in our memory.


  1. My uncle used to have a special rewinder machine. Every try rewinding by hand? Awesome. Mostly I like saying rewind and I hate fast backwards too. Never forget, VHS.


  2. Rewinding by hand was tough... those grooves were so hard to turn.

  3. Hahahaha! I STILL have VHS tapes and a VCR! :) My grandma still records things on VHS tapes even though we have a DVR. I love em! All our home videos are on em! I remember rewinding them by hand and all the times you had to run a VHS head cleaner to make em work! =P

    1. Oh yeah, the head cleaner. I remember they came in a VHS form that you'd pop in, in a cardboard box that had a cover with some decals on it and a back with pictures and info... I used to make fun of it by pretending it was a movie... "Paramount Pictures presents, Head Cleaner... starring nobody!"

    2. LOL- Starring Nobody! =P