Yes, things have changed.

Found this video the other day, and it made me smile.

Back in the day,  the stores only had VHS tapes (and a precious few, like Video Vern’s in West Valley, had a Betamax section),

Video Vern's Membership Card


Devices like this were common:


It’s a tape rewinder – ours looks like a car, and the headlights come on while it’s rewinding. That way you could watch another movie while you were rewinding the first one.

Fortunately, with DVD and Blu-Ray formats, such things are no longer essential – but you can still buy one.

dvdrewinder (1)


Things are so much easier now…

Then again, before the days of home video, going to the movies was a different experience.

When I was a kid, in NYC, you’d pay 50¢ for a matinee ticket. You’d go in and sit down in this massive theatre with one screen, and a big red velvet curtain hanging in front of the stage.


That’s the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, VA – lovingly restored, but that’s what a lot of them looked like.

An usher with a flashlight would help you find a seat if you needed help. The lights would go down, the curtain would go up, and the show would begin.

First, a newsreel. Then, usually, a cartoon. Then another short subject. Maybe some previews. And finally the main attraction, often with an intermission. And when it was all over, you could sit there and do it all again. And again. And again, if you wanted. If you came in late, you could just wait until the beginning came around again. Nobody chased you out. And all for four bits… a great way to escape the summer heat.


Now that’s how to watch a movie.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

VCR Wars: The one that lost

Betamax. Talk to an afficionado and you’ll get a whole list of reasons why it was better. VHS supporters disagree – fairly comprehensive point-counterpoint presents both opinions.

With technology zooming ahead at such breakneck speed, many youngsters today wouldn’t even relate to this Dilbert cartoon:

With both VHS and Betamax virtually obsolete for future production, the debate is more or less moot – but I still have 162 VHS tapes on my shelf, waiting to be ripped to AVI or replaced with DVD’s.

“Why don’t you switch to Blu-Ray,” I hear someone in the background sniggering? Basically for the same reason I don’t replace my PC with a Mac – it’s no longer substantially better, just different – and a whole lot more expensive. I’ve seen lots of videos on my son’s HD/Blu-Ray set. Yeah, they’re pretty nice. But when I watch movies at home on my own equipment, I don’t feel deprived. When my DVD player goes belly-up, I’ll most likely buy a Blu-Ray capable box, but then I’ll have to get a higher-resolution screen, and I can’t see shelling out the extra money until it’s absolutely necessary.

The Old Wolf has spoken.