Greetings. It's been a while since the last posting of archival video from my Betamax Extraction Project, but today's installment is very special, and should be of particular interest to anyone who works with video.
The 21st century digital video world is a veritable alphabet soup of competing and often incompatible formats, codecs, and aspect ratios. MPEG, Flash, H.264, WebM, the list of buzzwords seems almost endless. The casual observer could be forgiven for assuming that this complexity is new to computer-based video processing, but in reality "format wars" related to video -- and television broadcasting -- date back many decades, and the incompatibilities that come with them can even impact politics, free speech, privacy, and other critical aspects of society.
Today's video consists mainly of recovered clips I've assembled from a wonderful 1978 television program called Fast Forward. From incompatible color and TV broadcasting standards (and their sometimes complex relationship with national politics), to the bizarre world of differing videotape formats, this is a wonderful trip down memory lane by a program that tried quite successfully to make geeky subjects interesting to mass audiences.
It's amazing to see how far we've come in some respects, and how aspects of confusion present in 1978 technologies are still with us today as we've traveled the long path from NTSC to YouTube. And the cost factors are also fascinating to consider -- note the awe with which one speaker explains how you can now buy videocassette recorders for only around $1000! And remember, that's 1978 dollars. Believe me, he's not kidding either. Back then, home videotaping seemed magical at any price (and the tapes were damned expensive too, by the way).
The clips also feature appearances by esteemed television engineer, consultant, and global speaker Joe Roizen, who unfortunately passed away suddenly in 1989. In these segments, including ones where he explains the "NIH" (Not Invented Here) engineering principle, his tongue-in-cheek universal TV color system "Nutseqamir," test patterns, and other topics, you can see the joy -- and humor -- with which he could explain these highly technical topics. His children have a very nice site dedicated to Joe that is very much worth visiting.
Finally, as usual, I have included some other video goodies successfully extracted from the Vortex Videotape Archive (not necessarily from the same year as the main material), and have slotted them in at the beginning and end of the full video compilation. Note in particular how a lottery rehearsal came very close to invoking Satan -- or at least a permissive Unix/Linux protection mode!
1978 Video: TV and Video Formats Madness - A Twisted Path to YouTube!