The VCR revolution: December 24, 1984

Though I certainly do remember Christmas, 1984, I can’t claim to remember the above cover of Time magazine. But as the magazine cover proclaims, VCRs were a big deal back then. 

My parents had purchased a VCR a few years earlier…probably in 1982. It was my favorite device in our household, and my parents loved it, too.

If you’re too young to remember the world before the VCR, then you don’t remember the days of fitting your schedule around your favorite TV programs.

In the pre-VCR days, if you missed a program, you missed it (though you might be able to catch it much later, in reruns.) If you were a rabid fan of M*A*S*H, Dallas, or Magnum P.I., that was kind of a big deal.

The programmable VCR changed everything. It created an early, and limited version of “on-demand” video. Moreover, you could fast-forward through commercials in recorded shows. 

The VCR also expanded home movie viewing options considerably. By 1984, every suburb had a video rental shop. Practically all of them were independently owned stores. (Blockbuster wasn’t even founded until 1985.) The one in our suburb was called the Video Barn.

You could rent real movies at the Video Barn for $3 (about $8.38 in today’s money). Usually not the newest ones, but movies that had played at the cinema only a few years prior.

The future, I believed, had arrived.