Impact of the VHS

What Impact Did the VHS Have?

The introduction of the VHS had various impacts on society.  VHS represented the start of a new era.  In 1982 only six percent of U.S. homes had VCRs.  However, by 1986 the home ownership of VCRs had swelled to 33 percent in the United States.  Hollywood movies were now made not only for theaters but also for ownership in cassette tapes in which, as actor Tony Curtis explained in 1971, “you can plug whatever film you want to see into your television. . . a new form of entertainment.”[1]

The increase of video recording also brought about concerns about illegal copying of copyrighted material and a decline in cinema attendance.  These illegal recordings fell into two categories: home recording of material broadcasts and commercial piracy.  In 1976, the Disney Corporation and Universal Studios sued Sony in the U.S. courts for providing the means for their copyrights to be infringed.

Since 1986 basic VCR technology remained the same, but manufacturers introduced new features to increase convenience and functionality.  Some of these features included stereo sound and other forms of advanced programming.  Today the VHS has been reduced by its successor the DVD, which was introduced in 1997 and became the preferred method of distribution after 2000.  By 2006, film studios in the United States had stopped releasing new movie titles in VHS format. On December 31, 2008, the last major United States supplier of pre-recorded VHS tapes shipped its final truckload.[2] As of 2010, most of the VHS tapes being produced are 6 and 8 hour blank tapes.

[1] Discvoery Channel, “Tony Curtis On Arrival of Vcr,”, arrival-of-vcr#tony-curtis-on-arrival-of-vcr (accessed March 30, 2011).

[2]It’s unreel: DVD rentals overtake videocassettes”. The Washington Times (Washington, D.C.). June 20, 2003. Accessed 13 March 2, 2011.

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