In 1975, Sony introduced the first commercially viable home videotape system, Betamax. A year later, another Japanese company, JVC, came out with what was to become the most popular of home videotape processes, the VHS or Video Home System. By 1984, it was reported that 15.8 percent of U.S. households had at least one videocassette recorder (or VCR). VCR sales in the mid-1980s topped one million a month, until as of May 1, 1990, more than 70 percent of U.S. households had videocassette recorders. 1
The videotape revolution, as it came to be known, totally changed the manner in which Americans entertained themselves. The moviegoing experience began to fade as former theatregoers found it cheaper, more convenient, and often less harrowing to rent and sometimes purchase videotapes of their favorite films. Television programming could be recorded on tape for later viewing or reviewing. The operation of a videotape recorder/player was as simple as the use of any kitchen appliance, making access to videotape immediate for even the most technically uneducated.
Videotape provided a feeling of immediacy that film could not offer. With the latter medium, the viewer was simply that--an outsider looking in. Thanks to video, the viewer was offered the feeling of being there, a sense of intimacy and participation. As librarian Cliff Ehlinger wrote in Sightlines, "This growth in the videotape format has been fueled