Video Compact Cassette

From Academic Kids

Video Compact Cassette (VCC) was the official name of Philips domestic video format, later (and much more commonly) known as Video 2000. Philips of course also invented the standard audio cassette, which was officially known as the Audio Compact Cassette or ACC. Just like VCC, this term was not commonly adopted by the public!

Video 2000 was launched in 1980 by both Philips in Holland and their (West) German associates Grundig. Each company produced their own range of machines, Philips having the VR series, and Grundig the 2x4 machines. The format was unique in that the cassettes could be turned over and used on both sides; although the tape was half-inch (12.5 mm) wide, it was actually a quarter-inch (6.24 mm) format. Amazingly for 1980 it also used a Dynamic Tracking system, with heads mounted on the spinning drum which could move to follow exactly the recorded tracks.

Video 2000 was an evolutionary development from Philips' earlier Video Cassette Recording (VCR) format, which was the first practical home video cassette recorder system.

The VCR format appeared at around the same time as the Sony U-matic. Although at first glance the two may have appeared to be competing formats, they were aimed at very different markets. U-matic was introduced as a professional format, while the VCC was targeted at domestic users.

Home video systems had existed prior to this, but they were based on open reel systems and were extremely expensive to both buy and operate. The VCR system was still expensive by today's standards: the N1500 recorder cost nearly 600 in the United Kingdom when it was introduced in 1973 - that's the equivalent of more than 4500 today.

The VCR format used large cassettes with 2 co-axial reels, one on top of the other, containing half inch wide chrome dioxide tape. Three playing times were available: 30, 45 and 60 minutes. The 60-minute cassettes proved very unreliable, suffering numerous snags and breakages due to the very thin tape. The mechanically complicated recorders themselves also proved somewhat unreliable.

The system predated the development of the slant azimuth technique to prevent crosstalk between adjacent video tracks, so had to use an unrecorded guard band between tracks. This gave the system a comparatively high tape speed of around 11.5 inches per second.

The VCR system brought together many advances in video recording technology to produce the first truly practical home video cassette system. It evolved into a longer-playing VCR-LP format, and an even longer SVR Super Video variant, before spawning VCC / Video 2000. But VCC came late to the party, and was rapidly sidelined by the VHS and Betamax systems in the great Format War of the 1980s. Although VHS and Beta were less sophisticated than VCC, they offered longer (continuous) playing times, slightly better resolution and greater reliability, and crucially greater availability of both machines and recorded tapes.

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