Throwback Thursday #2: VCR

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The hey days of the VCR may be long over, but the memories and nostalgia still live on. In multiple totes are many family videos that were shot back in the ’90s and early 2000s that can only be played on one of these retro boxes unless they are painstakingly converted. The classic episodes of America’s Funniest Videos featured home videos on mini-VHS tapes, most likely played in a VCR at the studio. It was a delight to collect Disney movies on VHS, with their unique cases featuring sleek artwork, and the joy of hearing the “pop” and rush of air being released from the case after you opened it. Long ago, finding a cassette in a different color other than the standard black was a real treat. Different colors meant the videos were special, one-of-a-kind, or generally suitable for children of all ages.

Sadly, it’s now or never to convert our old VHS tapes to DVD or Blu-ray because of the magnetic tape degrading overtime, all those precious memories threatening to be lost forever. Christmases at Grandma O’s when I was five years old, vacations to Busch Gardens, old videos of me trying to hit a ball off the tee.

“Please be kind, rewind”, says that courteous label on rental movies that I took great pleasure in abiding by. It was a way of giving the employees less work to do when the video was returned, though some people liked to be mean and not rewind. I was always afraid that if I didn’t rewind, the store would come back at us with an extra charge or something. Rewinding one tape may not seem like much, but imagine having to rewind multiple titles with one VCR behind the counter, all before the first customers come in. Those words are an ultimatum essentially.

The “I taped the football game over our wedding and reception” was a classic plotline of late 20th century TV and movies.

Your little sister or brother might have put food or small toys into the video slot.

The tape might have gotten jammed in the machine or become tangled with the headers

The VCR featured in the photo above is a Magnavox 4-header of mine. Not exactly collector worthy, a pretty common everyday model, but it still works perfectly, owing to the continued improvement and refinements of everything up to it. This classic machine still has its uses and isn’t quite dead yet, not until all families of the 20th century are long gone or a national law orders all of these infernal machines to be tossed in a landfill, which would be a sad ending to a deeply rooted generation.

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Throwback Thursday #1

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Welcome to Throwback Thursday, where we reflect on our past and look back at the technology, events, and different kinds of culture considered nostalgic in our lives.

It’s time to go back to when there were only 151 Pokemon and the original Pokérap was a memorable thing for kids to watch and listen to. Any kid born in the early to mid ’90s would remember how crazy popular the Japanese creation was. Since my graduation from Pokemon and any similar children’s interest around 2002, there have been two more Pokéraps, which I haven’t listened to but look really bad on paper, really cheesy indeed. Also since the time I officially outgrew the series, there have been 570 more “species” of these Pocket Monsters introduced, new ones being “discovered” all the time in the fictional universe of Pokemon; it looks like the iconic Ash Ketchum won’t be able to “catch ’em all” anytime soon. Amazingly, Ash has hardly aged in the movies and anime series, staying 10-11 years old, as if hardly any time has passed between him meeting Pikachu and capturing a whole lot more Pokemon that weren’t even around when I first hooked onto the craze, long after all the boys in my second grade class obsessed about it everyday.

I remember watching the original Pokemon TV series on VHS, starting with the very first episode, but unfortunately I only got to see the first few episodes since obtaining the videos was difficult and rather expensive for my mom to buy. The great thing is the original and all the subsequent series afterward are available online for free, an implausible option 15 years ago when popping a VHS into the VCR was a thrilling feeling, that nostalgic whir-whir-whir and click! of the electric motors reeling the magnetic tape into place and the blue screen on the TV flashing the word “PLAY” before kicking into the video.

Above is a picture of me at around ten years old, wearing a Pokemon t-shirt and sporting a rather cool grin. Back when this picture was taken, I think just before the whole family began the trip to Williamsburg, Virginia (a really boring but historical place for me) one still had to have a working telephone connection to get on the Internet and whenever a person would pick up the phone, the connection would be lost. There was still a thing called a modem (a picture of a pool comes to mind) that made itself very apparent with its lengthy and noisy start-up. The last time I remember using dial-up was in 2004. Now Wi-Fi is available nearly everywhere and YouTube videos are able to be streamed in 1080 HD and beyond, whereas back in the web’s stone age would be virtually impossible.

Until then, here is a Pokerap by CollegeHumor for 718 Pokemon before three more were recently added – and it doesn’t look like the creators are going to stop anytime soon.