What Was the First Movie on VHS?

Those of us born in the ‘90s or before will remember the prevalence of VHS tapes. After all, they dominated the landscape for about 30 years. But technology changes fast. After the first movie on VHS, DVDs and BluRays were smaller, had more features, and were more easily stored. Just as cell phones decreased in size, so did movies. And now we can watch movies on our cell phones!

Whether we enjoyed watching feature films at home or made our own home movies, many of us have fond memories of movies on VHS. Despite being a piece of history and a symbol of technological advancement, VHS tapes contain valuable content worth preserving and remembering. 

VHS tapes are a major part of cinematic history – blank tapes put movie-making power into the hands of the individual. It increased autonomy to not only enjoy entertainment at home, but to preserve memories with home videos. With VHS, you can be both the filmmaker and the audience. 

So, how did it all begin? Let’s take a look at the history of the VHS tape and some of the first feature films to grace our screens.  

first movie on VHS had to be played in a VCR

The History of the VHS Tape

Before we delve into the history of the first movie released on VHS, let’s run through a quick refresher. VHS stands for “video home system” and refers to the tape itself. A VHS uses a magnetic strip to preserve sounds and images in a particular order. Most VHS tapes can hold up to six hours of footage. Perhaps you remember the bulky device in your living room called a VCR, which stands for “video cassette recorder.” It refers to the machine that you insert the tape into in order for it to play. 

When Did VHS Movies Come Out?

first vhs movieVHS movies first became publicly available in 1976. They were manufactured by the company JVC. They cost between $1,000 and $1,400 then! Adjusted for the value of a dollar in the year 2022, that is over $4,000! So as you can imagine, VHS tapes were not immediately popular worldwide. But they were cheaper than their competitor, Betamax, and VHS ultimately succeeded as the more popular video tape format. By the 1990s, VHS tapes reached peak popularity.  

FIRST VHS MOVIE RELEASED: THE YOUNG TEACHER

The first VHS movie was a South Korean film called The Young Teacher. The Young Teacher was filmed in the 1970s, released in 1972, and was available for VHS purchase and home consumption in 1976 – the same year when the first VCRs were released.

This movie is about a young, idealistic teacher who wanted to uplift her students, so she organized a volleyball game for them, but the principal did not approve and fired her.

What was the Last VHS Ever Made?

last movie on VHSThe last VHS was released in 2005, a crime drama/action thriller called A History of Violence. Viggo Mortensen stars as a man whose act of violence has consequences for his family. It was nominated for two Academy Awards. 

Films have not been distributed in the VHS format for over a decade now, but blank VHS tapes are still available for home movie recordings. 

What was the Most Expensive VHS Tape Ever Made?

What is the most expensive VHS tape? There’s not a specific answer to this question. Prices fluctuate, but as of this writing, the cult classic Dr. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974) is asking for $400 on eBay. Original VHS tapes of Beauty and the Beast (1991) go for thousands! The best-selling VHS film was The Lion King (1995). 

As VHS tapes become more rare, classic movies increase in value as collectors’ items. So even though they are not practical to watch for fun anymore, they are antiques! So it may be worth your while to maintain the quality of your VHS tapes – you never know which movie will become the new hot ticket item.

How to Preserve Your VHS Tapes

Whether your precious VHS is of a rare film, your favorite ‘90s comedy, or your first VHS movie showcasing family memories, it is important that the tape is preserved. When sound, image, and story come together, it is powerful, heartfelt, and informative. It transforms hearts and minds. So it is important that VHS tapes are well preserved. Here’s how to care for your VHS tapes:  

  1. Clean the VHS and VCR

Properly cleaning VHS tapes and VCRs helps to preserve them. Clean the VCR carefully with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Mechanical tape cleaner helps to get rid of dirt and debris on the tape inside the VHS. Be careful not to jam the tape while cleaning.. 

  1. Store Them Safely

As with most things, prevention is the best medicine. Storing your VHS tapes correctly is crucial for keeping them in top condition. The best way to store VHS tapes is to put them in proper temperature and moisture controlled storage. Environments that are too hot or too moist will ruin the magnetic strip of film and discolor it. 

  1. Make Copies

Make copies of your first VHS tapes now in case the originals get damaged beyond repair. The more time passes, the more likely it is that your VHS tapes will become discolored, moldy, or otherwise damaged. You can also hand out copies to your friends and family as keepsakes (if they still have VCRs to play them).  

transfer VHS to DVD

  1.  Transfer to DVD

DVDs replaced VHS tapes in the 2000s, as they were smaller, offered more features and higher quality visuals. DVD players are still available, so you may opt to preserve your memories stored on VHS by transferring them to a DVD. It’s best to leave the process of transferring video tapes to DVD to the professionals, especially if you’re working with prized home movies.  

  1. Digitize 

While DVD players are still available, they are quickly becoming obsolete as well. The king of movies now is streaming services. Online streaming platforms are making so many of our most loved movies available to anyone with an Internet connection and a subscription. There is no hardware or technology needed other than a device that connects to the Internet. 

In that vein, the most reliable and best option is to go digital. This means transferring the content from the video tape into a downloadable .mp4 file that you can watch on your laptop, computer, tablet, or smartphone. There is no jumble of the tape when digitizing: just click play.

EverPresent makes converting VHS to digital easy: we pick up your tapes or you ship them to us, we carefully handle and process the videos, and then you receive your video in a more updated, modern format that will last forever. We transfer the movie from the tape to .mp4 file so you can watch it anytime, and even edit it if you’d like. 

You can also upload the file to a video sharing site like YouTube if you want to distribute it to the public or to select friends and family. Friends and family will appreciate a digital version of your home movie instead of a VHS or DVD that takes up space in the home or office. VHS tapes are bulky, so it declutters your house to digitize! 

Of course, you can do more than one of these five options to double and triple ensure that the content from your tape will last. 

Making sure labels match up and deliverables work are an important final step of VHS to DVD transfers

Protect Your Memories with EverPresent

For over 30 years, EverPresent has been helping people all over the Northeastern United States transfer content from VHS tapes to downloadable files so they can cherish them forever. VHS tapes corrode with time and the VCR technology is no longer widely available. This is how we can help you preserve your first VHS home movies for generations to come. Get a free estimate for your project or call 866-363-3351 to see how we can help convert your VHS to digital today.

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