December 12, 2005
The fate of old media

I was cleaning out the garage and found the pile of VCR tapes I had placed there over a year ago. In over the year, the girls had not watched any of these movies, making a complete switch to Tivo & DVDs.

We decided it was time for them to go and give me back some space in the garage of other crap. The girls helped set up a sales table and made some nice signs.

They were selling the old VHS tapes for $1 each. What a deal, you say? They'll be gone instantly right, I mean it's only a dollar?

Well, people would stop by to see what was for sale and invariably be upset that there were no DVDs. Who wants tapes these days they would say. In the end, the girls sold about $20 worth of movies. I gave the rest to Goodwill to end up in their old movies bin.

Mark this lesson as to the value of old media. The same movie would have been worth 10 times more if it had been on DVD. Same exact movie, different playback format.

What is the fate of DVD movies once electronic movies take root? Will the Blu-Ray & HD-9 next generation discs get traction in the marketplace? Who can tell?

Looking at the piles of worthless eight-track tapes and video cassettes across America, it's hard to imagine the cycle not continuing over and over.

Posted by michael at December 12, 2005 06:56 AM


Too bad it wasn't worth making a list of what you had there, we'd have taken some off your hands without a doubt...while true the technology is dead, and the media along with it - there are a lot (a lot) of people who prefer to use tape. (for now)

In my case, its a little girl with Cerebral Palsy who doesn't have full use of her arms and hands.

Popping a video tape in a slot [the machine starts to play automatically] is immensely easier than trying to handle a CD or DVD disc, putting it onto a tray and then needing to negotiate the menus to watch the movie!

Current DVD watching devices are not very handicap accessible.
Tape cassettes and VCRs are much easier to handle for those physically and mentally challenged until say slot-load, direct-to-play DVD players and DVDs become more readily availabe (lower-priced).

Yes, I have noticed that some entertainment giants are making direct-to-play DVDs for some of their where are the inexpensive easy to manage players?

(sorry to rant)

Best to you and the girls. Happy ho-ho's and all that.

Posted by: michael [] on December 12, 2005 8:15 AM

The cycle of life.

Posted by: Haven Perez [] on December 12, 2005 9:00 AM

One thing in DVDs' favor is that the upcoming standards will be backwards-compatible; HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players will still be able to play DVD. So the transition will be much more graceful.

I don't even have anything capable of reading a VHS tape (which was always a pretty specialized function), while I have three computers at home, two computers at work, a couple video game systems, and a cheap dedicated set-top box all capable of playing DVDs. Maybe in 20 years it'll be difficult to find something capable of playing DVDs, but probably not, as the physical format itself has become pretty ingrained for so many different media types, to a much greater extent than cassette tapes or floppy disks ever were, for example.

Also, VHS players never got down to the price point of utter disposability, simply because their mechanisms are so complex. A DVD player just needs a couple of motors, a simple optical assembly, and a controller/decoder chip. These days it still costs $60 or so to get a new VCR to play that one old treasured tape and that won't even play the sound in stereo, while if you want a dedicated DVD player (which you don't need, because that function is built in to everything else) you can get a $20 player which is every bit as good as a $400 one except in terms of durability.

The moral of the story: specialization is death.

Posted by: fluffy [] on December 13, 2005 8:18 AM

There's a pretty long list of movies I would probably have paid $1 for on VHS... I would have been hyped to come across a table like this on my street.

Posted by: Pete Prodoehl [] on December 13, 2005 8:50 AM

Specialization is death?

Do you grow all your own food? Just asking.

Posted by: Brad [] on December 13, 2005 9:01 AM

No, but I'm also not specialized in what I do. Anyway, I was referring to formats, not to people.

Think of all the formats which have come and gone, and how many purposes they had. Then think about all the formats you use today and how far back they date. Include paper.

Posted by: fluffy [] on December 13, 2005 9:11 AM

All quite interesting, but what I want to know is where Zoe got that cool Monkey T-shirt!

Posted by: Matt P [] on December 13, 2005 12:53 PM

man...they even had great signage (how cute!) and ditto on the T ... is that a reindeer julius?

Posted by: Caitlin [] on December 13, 2005 2:37 PM

The t-shirt looks like a Paul Frank creation.

Posted by: BillB [] on December 13, 2005 3:08 PM

Zoe's T shirt is a Paul Frank knockoff from Amsterdam, she just makes everything look super cute. The other one's not too bad either.

Posted by: scarymommy [] on December 13, 2005 5:13 PM

Offhand I'd say I have amassed about 200 VHS tapes, but not all are video. I was so fascinated by the Dolby Hi-Fi aspects of the playback that it opened a whole new world for me as a musician. I faithfully recorded all the classic Soul, Blues and Jazz I could tune into on NYC radio (FMU, WRVR, WBGO, etc.) between 1990-1996 using the SLP(6-hr)recording mode and meant to keep up with the file Transfer-to-CD craze. Well, that all passed with the advent of the Mini-Disc, MP3,DVD, etc., and here I am with a rare and amazing collection of 6 hours X 200 worth of music. No response from any of the DJs or churches here in Houston, TX. Bah,Humbug to them and Happy Holidays to you and your family !

Posted by: Fred [] on December 17, 2005 9:51 AM
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