In the early days of home video, one of the "holy
Grails" was developing a consumer-friendly video camera format.
At the time, video cameras came in two separate pieces: a camera
and a VCR, both of which had to be lugged around.
JVC, the creator of VHS, developed their own solution: Compact
VHS, or VHS-C. The format was introduced in 1982, not long after
VHS itself began its march to video domination. VHS-C uses the
same tape as regular VHS, and records in exactly the same way.
However, the cassette shell is just a third of the size.
In a move that is not surprising of a company that focused on
consumers' basic needs in their development of VHS, JVC realized
the consumers did not want another deck to play back their VHS-C
tapes. So they developed a VHS adapter shell into which the VHS-C
could be placed and play back normally in a standard VCR. This
way, they achieved their "camcorder" goals without making older
VHS-C's main competitor was Sony's 8mm variants, which offered
many improvements over VHS-C: a longer running time, a smaller
and lighter tape, and the ability to perform higher-level tasks,
such as PCM audio recording. But VHS-C still wins in the "ease
of use" department, since 8mm tapes have never had an adapter
that enables them to work in a consumer VCR. (Nor could they; the
size of the plastic videotape precludes any VHS VCR compatibility.)
Today, VHS-C tapes
are best converted to DVD via a tape
to DVD transfer,
since the playing ability of the tapes seems to diminish year
by year. If you haven't taken the step to transfer
VHS-C to DVD,
the time to do it is now!