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Vol.9 : The Origins of Sony's VTRs

The first Japanese VTR prototype

Inside of VTR prototype. The center is the recording part and
the fan is for cooling the vacuum tube.

Sony's product history that started with tape recorders and transistor radios is also about miniaturization. The most impressive example is probably the Video Tape Recorder.

The VTR came into use in 1956. That year, Amprex launched the VRX-1000 based on the two-inch Quadruplex format and two-inch tape - at 3 million yen, only TV broadcasters such as CBS and NBC could adopt it. In 1958, NHK became the first broadcaster to import the VRX-1000 to Japan, which in turn provoked Japanese manufacturers to attempt to come up with their own version. In August 1958, Sony started developing a two-inch Quadruplex format VTR and announced the first Japan-made prototype in December the same year. Sony had the technology know-how on recording sound - but recording moving images is far more complex. The speed of development was quite simply astonishing and is a sign of the united efforts of the Sony engineers involved.

This prototype was huge. One of the principal purposes of developing the prototype was to raise Sony's technology level to Amprex's. It was technology that was learnt developing the prototype that became the basis of the later Sony VTR models.

The company news magazine Sony News noted: "Broadcasters across Japan will be equipped with the expensive machine. And soon the day will come when anyone can record any program they want when they want on an affordable and portable video recorder at home." Seven years later, in 1965, Sony launched the world's first consumer transistor VTR CV-2000 at the affordable price of 198,000 yen.

The first VTR prototype made in Japan.
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