Japanese Industrial Video Formats of the 1970’s

When I was in High School (1978 through 1981) we had a small closed circuit TV station with B&W cameras, video recorders, and a small switcher. Much of the equipment was Sony or old broadcast cast-offs (Conrac monitors, Tektronix waveform monitor, etc.).

The video recorders we had were all Sony. Starting with the largest (and biggest), the EV-200 was an EIAJ 1″ B&W helical scan recorder with mechanical transport control. In other words, a big Rewind – Stop – Play/Rec – Fast Forward lever / knob. The tape wrap was 180 degrees around the drum.

Next was the EV-340 which was also EIAJ 1″, but had electronic control and an optional ColorPack (this did color under, see the related video post here). I never recall this machine working well and it was rarely used. I never saw it work in color.

Then we got the EIAJ 1/2″ AV-3650 which was a marvel because it could edit. Both Assemble Edit as well as Insert Edit. A mechanical transport control meant that you could not control it via any sort of edit controller, just manually drop into record cleanly (assemble edit) or punch into and drop out of record while playing (insert edit) cleanly.

The AV-3400 was EIAJ 1/2″, portable and included a portable camera (all B&W). It could even run for a bit (an hour if memory serves) from a built in rechargeable battery!

At some point we got a new fangled Industrial (not home) BetaMax with mechanical tuner and large “piano” keys mechanical operation. It recorded color!

My senior year we recorded the Presidential Inauguration (Ronald Reagan) and then showed it during every class period the next day for all the Social Studies classes. We did the recording on three machines; EV-200, AV-3650, BetaMax. For playback we started by rotating through all three, but after the third period we decided to use the EV-200 for all the remaining playback because (in B&W, which is what all the classroom TV sets were) it looked the best of the three. The AV-3650 looked slightly soft and the BetaMax was much softer as it had all the filtering to handle the color component.

So even in 1981 I was comparing video formats and picking the best looking.

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