VHS – or Video Home System – was
launched by JVC in Japan in 1976 to compete with Sony's burgeoning
Betamax format. It arrived in the United States in the early
1980s and quickly became a success for twenty years – which
is why copying VHS to DVD is a frequent activity at Timeless
Why did VHS triumph over Betamax? For a few reasons. First,
in the early days, VHS could fit at least 2 hours of video on
a single tape, while Betamax could only fit 1 hour. This is partly
because VHS cassettes are larger, but also because the VHS format
has a lower "recording density." While both formats increased
their maximum running time, VHS got up to 6 or 8 hours per tape
while Betamax topped out at just over 4. Consumers didn't care
that Betamax offered a higher-quality picture; they preferred
to fit more video on a single tape. (And keep in mind that video
tapes were not that cheap back in the 1980s!)
Also, while Sony developed their Betamax machines from
professional earlier formats (primarily U-matic), JVC designed
a unit that simply offered consumers the basics that they needed.
This philosophy carried through to the manufacturing of the VHS
units, and some companies chose to back VHS because the machines
were easier and cheaper to produce. VHS was simply a less-demanding
format, all around.
Add to this some savvy marketing on the part of JVC, and it's
easy to see why VHS became the video format of choice for the
consumer through most of the 1980s and 1990s. As of the mid-2000s,
though, this once-popular tape is going the way of the dodo.
There's no better time to copy
VHS to DVD.