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peteym5

Old VCRs and copy protection.

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I know there are many people still around here that remember the good old VCRs and remember people taping shows from cable or copying tapes by attaching 2 VCRs together. Such fun days those were. From what I remember, there was a copy protection on some video cassettes that put bars above the frame that were high intensity black and white and sometimes changed from dark to white. Messing with VCR recording and screwed with the playback. Some brands of VCR still were able to copy without any issues. Anyone here ever play with This stuff.

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Indeed, I had a little black box with composite cable in and out, in from playback VCR and out to recording VCR (audio cable passed directly between machines) known as a Macro-eliminator it was pretty much plug and play and did exactly as described. i would rent all the latest hit movies and copy away. 😎Good times. It was just like the one pictured below.

 

index.jpg.9a8c3dfaf2bc9f37bbb711506f63ead6.jpg

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I still own and use a JVC Hi-Fi VCR from the mid-late 1990's.  Still works well.  I like the fact I don't have to worry about scratches.  Just put the tape in and let it play.  I use old-school CRTs with it, though, as modern HiDef TVs simply don't get along with it.  I have nothing against HiDef stuff but it's nice to see just how well an old 20" True Flat Screen Sanyo CRT TV and that JVC VCR work together.  Bright, vibrant pictures with stereo sound.  If I want surround I can always look for those older receivers that offer 5.1 surround.  That works for me.

Copy protection was not limited to just VHS tapes.  Shortly after my family invested in VHS movies they wanted to copy the CED movies they liked the most.  All we had to start with was mono systems, no stereo sound at all, even the CED players were mono.  None of the CEDs we had would copy because of copy protection.  I take that back...I finally got Annie to copy to VHS but it wasn't easy and I'm not sure now exactly what VCR I used to do it.

I believe in 1998 my grandmother's Curtis Mathis VCR crapped out on us and CM was long gone.  So we sat down with a JCPenny's book and flipped through it.  We found a Go-Video HiFi dual deck VCR for like $600.  The guy we talked to on the phone about it said he owned one and loved it.  Everything he threw at the machine it would copy.  So Granny ordered one.  Next thing we knew everyone who wanted a tape copied came to Grandma's house.  It was the only deck that could copy any tape, commercial or otherwise, and it also copied those CED discs.  Very easy to use, too.  We loved that thing.  Not sure what happened to it after she passed but I didn't get it.  I'd have another one except no one rents VHS any more and VHS tapes in good shape are about a buck now...$3 for Disney movies.  It's now cheaper to buy the movies than it is to try to get the gear to copy them.

You know...480i doesn't look half bad.  I know I keep seeing newer LCD TVs go in our dumpster because they quit working while my older CRT TV is still rocking it.  I'd love to see some of this old tech make a comeback.  

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12 hours ago, MaximumRD said:

Indeed, I had a little black box with composite cable in and out, in from playback VCR and out to recording VCR (audio cable passed directly between machines) known as a Macro-eliminator it was pretty much plug and play and did exactly as described. i would rent all the latest hit movies and copy away. 😎Good times. It was just like the one pictured below.

 

index.jpg.9a8c3dfaf2bc9f37bbb711506f63ead6.jpg

I remember one of the secrets of the old internet was a DVD player that could be hacked (via a secret menu) to remove the copy protection so you could do this very thing...record a DVD on a VCR for a near-perfect copy.  Apex was the brand (a Chinese company), and I think the model was 2500a or something  I had one.  It didn't last long (cheap design that overheated).  Those were the days. 

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There is probably software that allows you to do this from your PC. All you need is Composite or S-Video Out to your VCR. But the VCR is outdated. The modern hard drive is about the size of a video cassette that can hold many times my old video tape collection in much less space. But I do miss those days. Imagine what will be available 10 years from now. Every movie and TV show ever made stored on a thumb drive.
I am someone that reached DVD with a small collection and never jumped onto Blu Ray. I know Blu Ray would not have a big impact on the market because many People invested in collecting DVDs since 2000. How would these companies expect everyone to switch that same collection to Blu Ray? You really need a huge screen to see a difference. 

 

 

Edited by peteym5

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The only thing that keeps me hanging on to the older video formats are the movies on them and the price.  VHS movies are easily found for the prices I mentioned earlier...some can be found brand new, never been opened.  I found ET and Jurassic Park still sealed for dollar each.  The movies I enjoy watching the most either never made it to DVD or were some of the first initial DVD titles now hard to find.  And Disney movies on VHS and LD play just fine, no issues.  I don't have to wait for Disney to decide to pull movies out of their vault...I already have most that made it to those formats.

14 hours ago, RickR said:

I remember one of the secrets of the old internet was a DVD player that could be hacked (via a secret menu) to remove the copy protection so you could do this very thing...record a DVD on a VCR for a near-perfect copy.  Apex was the brand (a Chinese company), and I think the model was 2500a or something  I had one.  It didn't last long (cheap design that overheated).  Those were the days. 

My first gaming TV was an Apex.  I liked it because it could switch hertz on the fly.  But it was a second hand CRT and finally gave out.  I use a Sanyo now but it doesn't switch hertz so I have games I am discovering I can't play on a 60 Hertz TV.

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Many pirated or bootleg movies come from China, Japan, and regions of South East Asia. It is no surprise you can get some gadget that can duplicate video from various formats. I had friends in the Military coming back with bootleg movies. That was before movies came down in prices to under $20 USD. You can order many VCD format movies online coming from there. To me a VCD looks like a VHS video recorded at EP. 

What could had saved the VHS was if someone came up with a digital recording format on magnetic tape. I think a few people tried, but they waited until after DVD took the market.

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I think this is a case where new technology is a giant step forward.  In my experience, I realized how much space VHS tapes take up after donating most of my collection to charity.  They take up a lot of space and are really heavy cumulatively.  DVD/Bluray are way better quality, lighter, smaller, and cheaper to boot.  And players...you can buy a brand new DVD player for $20.  True, it doesn't record.  But good luck hooking up a VCR to anything but over-the-air to record anyways.  

My local library has a for sale section.  VHS taps are 25 cents.  DVD's are 50 cents.  The VHS just sit there forever. 

I know folks still collect VHS, and I don't mean to disparage anyone.  If it brings you joy, carry on.  Laserdisc is another one I won't touch anymore.  I have a few I keep.  But they are so heavy and fragile....nope, nope, nope.  I gave most of what I have away a long time ago.  No regrets.  I'm turning minimalist for some things in my old age :) 
 

Edited by RickR

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One other bad aspect of VHS IMO is the tiny space on the box for artwork.  Booklets are rarely included.  DVDs are a little better in this regard.  But Laserdisc blew them both away.  Big beautiful covers that really let you SEE the great artwork for each movie.  That's why I keep the 3 or so Laserdiscs I have...the great artwork for my favorite movies. 

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6 hours ago, peteym5 said:

Many pirated or bootleg movies come from China, Japan, and regions of South East Asia. It is no surprise you can get some gadget that can duplicate video from various formats. I had friends in the Military coming back with bootleg movies. That was before movies came down in prices to under $20 USD. You can order many VCD format movies online coming from there. To me a VCD looks like a VHS video recorded at EP. 

What could had saved the VHS was if someone came up with a digital recording format on magnetic tape. I think a few people tried, but they waited until after DVD took the market.

Believe it or not, VHS did see a short-lived HD addition to the format...but it was very costly.

LD was the better of the analog video formats...it just was a more expensive way of obtaining movies and playing them.  I had three movies decades ago on LD before I gave up on the format.  Those were Independence Day in a nice, double album-like cover.  Gorgeous artwork.  Heavy Metal was in a chrome cover with a plan, ordinary, clear plastic sleeve. And I had one more movie I can't remember the name of now.  But I do have to hand it to laserdisc for bringing over what people liked about vinyl audio LPs over to LD.  There simply isn't another physical format that allows you to enjoy the packaging as well as the movie contained on the disc.

The only thing VHS allowed for was recording your favorite shows from their TV broadcasts...something the other formats didn't do for consumers.  There were LD recorders but those were mostly used by stations and such.  If you use VHS on a standard definition TV they really are not all that bad.  Laserdiscs are great for those widescreen presentations but, again, play best on cathode-ray TVs...and there are a few of those that were widescreen models.  I know for a fact Sanyo made one with a crap load of connectors on it that eventually became popular choices.

Believe it or not, VHS was also used for multi-track audio recording. I knew someone in my home state that owned a 16-track recorder that used standard VHS tapes to record on.  Weird gadget but the sound was impressive.

2 hours ago, RickR said:

I think this is a case where new technology is a giant step forward.  In my experience, I realized how much space VHS tapes take up after donating most of my collection to charity.  They take up a lot of space and are really heavy cumulatively.  DVD/Bluray are way better quality, lighter, smaller, and cheaper to boot.  And players...you can buy a brand new DVD player for $20.  True, it doesn't record.  But good luck hooking up a VCR to anything but over-the-air to record anyways.  

My local library has a for sale section.  VHS taps are 25 cents.  DVD's are 50 cents.  The VHS just sit there forever. 

I know folks still collect VHS, and I don't mean to disparage anyone.  If it brings you joy, carry on.  Laserdisc is another one I won't touch anymore.  I have a few I keep.  But they are so heavy and fragile....nope, nope, nope.  I gave most of what I have away a long time ago.  No regrets.  I'm turning minimalist for some things in my old age :) 
 

Space?  Yea, VHS takes up more space than DVD/BD for sure.  But take up far less space than those CEDs RCA came out with.  I don't how many CED movies my family owned but it was in the 1,000s total as I inherited those when they switched to VHS.  Hauling just the movies caused my friend's truck to sag on the backend and we had to make two trips simply because his truck couldn't tolerate the weight of those things.  Those things weigh a ton and just 10 movies alone can cause a weak shelf to bow.  We never stored those movies on shelving...they were best kept on closet floors.  A large tote full of VHS movies is light compared to those things.  But I still like the CED format.  Some rare movies not found on today's formats resides on that old format.

Unlike you, RickR, hi-def stuff is nice but I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to movies and TV shows.  I don't mind having to flip a disc over or dealing with tape-eating machines.  I'm use to it.  Besides, even the earliest DVDs only put out 480.  As long as I have a decent stereo TV I will continue to enjoy VHS and LD.  They are nice to have.  LDs I only have about 10 movies, some my family and I could never find on VHS.  It's the only format I've been able to find The Glenn Miller Story, one of my favorites.  And no commercials!

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I don't own any CEDs or players, sadly.  All that stuff got ransacked when mom passed away in 1998.  Her funeral was in another town at least 4 hours away from where she lived.  Before I could get back to retrieve some things someone one broke in the house and took some items then destroyed what they couldn't take.

But, yes, CEDs are the record-like videodiscs.  I owned 7 players.  Three of them were SJT-100 mono models, 1 was an older SGT-100.  It wasn't self-loading.  I had two SJT-200 stereo models and an SGT-200 which was also a stereo model but lacked the self-loading mech.  All of them played very well for their age.  My personal player was one of the SJT-100.  The other three just like it came from my grandmother, my aunt that lived with us, and my cousin.  All of which were put under my grandmother's bed to be forgot about.  I finally got brave and asked about them shortly before my mother passed.  Dust city but they still functioned.

The movies combined from all family members totaled over 1,000 titles, some were duplicates so if one didn't want to play I had other copies that did.  My family always wondered if there was a way to clean them so they would play better.  I spent years trying various methods.  One method I discovered did clean them where they would play again but it also removed the oil coating that protected both the disc and the stylus during playback.  I ruined a needle just playing a disc after I cleaned it.  I found a somewhat solution to that problem when my grandmother's sowing machine oil spilled on a disc I just cleaned.  I wiped off what I could but it spread all over the disc surface.  It offered protection, and the discs did play, but the spin slung any excess oil all over the inside of the player.  Imagine that mess.  It did save a movie I had that refused to play that was the only one like it, without a duplicate, in that collection.  I never shared my findings with any one.

I'd love to get my hands on an RCA player and some CEDs again.  Great animated films on those things.

 

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