This is the EL-5 Sony Elcaset deck, a high quality audio cassette machine. It uses tape that was twice as wide and ran at twice the speed of the standard compact cassette. It also takes the tape out of the cassette and ran it along its own mechanism, instead of relying on the mechanism in the cassette. It had a very high audio quality, but was unfortunately also very expensive. I got this one from an audiophile who had switched over to CD and DAT. Big mistake in my opinion :)
This is a 1979 VHS system, the Panasonic NV-8610, a top loader that still works mechanically. It cost about US $ 1500.
National Panasonic already had a video cassette recorder before VHS. This machine, the NV-5120A, records one hour of color video on a cassette looking like a large 8 track box. There is only one reel of tape in it, the beginning of the tape is taken out of the box and loaded into a take-up reel inside the machine. There is no clock or TV tuner in the machine. (The round dial you see on the right is the tape counter.) This specimen was manufactured in 1978.
The tape path inside the NV-5120A is very complicated, it follows an alpha-like path from the cassette holder in the front, in a full circle around the video drum on the left to the take-up reel on the right.
This is the Sony U-matic player VP2030, the second one available. It is mostly mechanical, but the controls are already electronic. The first U-matic machine, that is completely mechanical, is also in my collection, but I cannot reach it at the moment to photograph it. This Sony U-matic machine can only play back tapes, not record them. This made the machine a bit cheaper and very much more safer to operate, no vandals secretly erasing important tapes.
The predecessor to the U-matic system, the Sony CV-2100ACE black and white reel to reel video tape recorder. It has the same U tape path as the U-matic system. This machine was given to me after it had been stored for 10 years in a shed outdoors. I only needed to clean it, it worked at once. That is the solid technology of those days.
This is the first Sony Betamax home video cassette recorder machine available, the SL-8000E from 1979. It could record up to three hours of colour video with mono sound on a small cassette, the smallest of the available systems. Betamax also flopped in the end. The picture quality was better than VHS, (Betamax had still picture and fast-moving picture without disturbance way earlier than VHS) but this was possible because of the more complicated mechanical construction of the machine, in fact a U-matic machine scaled down. VHS had smaller mechanics and a shorter tape path, so it was cheaper to build. The Beta format is still used today, but only in professional videos. Beta picture quality today is a lot better than what the home machines had, even while that was not so bad to begin with.
This is another very old VHS machine. It is the first JVC VHS machine available in The Netherlands, around 1979. It was all mechanical. This one still works, it is used in the local Kindergarten every week.
Radio Shack doesn't exist in The Netherlands any more, but when they did it was one of the very few places where you could buy 8-track recorders and players. This was a high-end one. Read all about 8 track machines on the 8 track heaven.
If you are interested in unusual and old audio/video equipment, you must visit:
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