In 1972 Philips released what is known as the first true home video cassette recorder called the N1500. This format was known as the "VCR" format, these days VCR is common terminology associated with any video cassette recording machine particularly the typical VHS system. This VCR unlike other existing video recorders of the time had all the basic essential features of a modern VHS recorder such as a UHF/VHF tuner for off-air recording, recording on one channel while watching a program on another, and a clock timer for timeshift recording when you're not around to record a program. These machines were first used in schools and colleges in UK during 1972 and 1973, and went on the consumer market in the UK in the fall of 1973 and were marketed in Australia probably around 1974/75ish. Because of the expensive price tag say about $1000 Australian, not many people had these machines so they are very hard to find. Plus 1 hour cassettes were about $40 in the 1970's. Regardless of poor sales in the domestic field due to the price tag, they were the first VCR aimed at the domestic market as well as the educational market and those who had the money to buy one enjoyed watching their favourite shows that run in on a timeslot that they are not around or are on when another show someone wants to watch is on.
The Philips VCR machine came in 3 general formats, the standard play format for the N1500-N1512 series which can record up to 70 minutes on a cassette, the long play format for the N1700-N1702 series which can record up to 3 hours on a cassette, and german brand Grundig made their super long play machine which is the SVR-4004 which can record up to 5 hours on a cassette. These machines were also marketed under a number of different brands worldwide, though most predominately under European brand names like Grundig, Saba, Telefunken, PYE etc... In Australia we had our own brand called Kriesler in which the VCR machines imported to Australia were rebadged with the Kriesler brand.
The video cassettes were very different from other cassettes in which the reels were arranged in a coaxial arrangement (stacked on top of each other) and the tape comes down on a slant from the top reel to the bottom reel and the VCR head drum is pretty much perpendicular unlike the other machines in which the head drums are slanted.
Anyways here below are some pictures of the N1500 to N1700 series Philips VCRs and their video cassettes.
My Philips N1500. Had this machine semi functional, well functional enough to play tapes to transfer to VHS back in 2002 to 2003, unfortunately towards the end of 2003 one of the video heads snapped off during playback rendering this VCR useless for transfers. I've since sold this machine along with a few other non-working VCR machines to one of my contacts in Sydney who has more of a technical know-how to get them running better, this was to make way for space. Sad to get rid of this great machine.
Mike's Philips N1500
Mike's Philips N1502. An updated version of the N1500 with refined electronics, modernistic plastic appearence and a digital 3 day 1 event clock timer.
Standard play VCR cassette, this example being a 45 minute Philips brand VCR cassette (95-100 minutes when recorded on a long play machine)
The reels inside of a VCR cassette mounted in coaxial format
VCR cassette with its rear flap open, tape goes down on a slant from the top reel to the bottom reel
A cleaning VCR cassette. One word of warning, cleaning cassettes with the fabric tape are the worst things ever invented to clean video heads, not VCR cassettes but cleaning cassettes for all video formats, these things sandpaper video heads. Best to clean video heads manually across the heads with a piece of chamois and rubbing alcohol or metho.
<--- One of my VCR cassettes, this one being a 60 minute Philips brand video cassette
A couple of VCR cassettes of different brands, BASF and Scotch
My Philips N1700 long play VCR. I have been through a few of these machines over the past 7 years, some working, some not. Due to space I have also sold my non-working N1700s to a couple of my contacts. I now have one N1700 that works but gives no sound, will have to find a way to fix the audio.
Long play VCR cassette, AGFA brand 130 minute (60 minute on standard play VCR)
Couple of other brands of long play VCR cassettes, one being BASF and the other Philips
With the long play VCRs, the video cassettes are interchangeable with the standard play VCRs in terms of recording on, for example a 60 minute standard play VCR cassette used in a Philips N1700 will give you 130 minutes of record time in long play, and a 150 minute long play VCR cassette used in a Philips N1500 will give you about 69 minutes of record time in standard play. The 180 minute long play cassettes are not recommended for use in a standard play machine as the tape is made a bit thinner and can snap or possibly elongate when used in a standard play machine from some facts I've read about them. I have to say though I've came across a 180 minute cassette recorded on a standard play machine, it played fine on my N1500 and got about 83 minutes of recordings on it.
My Grundig SVR-4004. This machine doesn't quite work as the SVR tapes play in fast forward but the video heads are good as the picture is clear.
On top of the SVR-4004 is a 4 hour SVR cassette. On a N1700 this tape would give 145 minutes of recording time and on a N1500 65 minutes of recording time.
A SVR cassette, this one being a 2 hour Grundig brand cassette. These are interchangeable for recording on the standard and long play VCRs
Anyways that's the Philips VCR format for you. More information on this format can be found on the VCR format on the following pages:
Mike's old technology website VCR format page http://www.oldtechnology.net/vcr.html , I sourced a lot of the above images from his site with his permission. He has a lot of great information on the VCR format and has illustrated a number of pictures of different brands of the VCR machine world wide, this VCR format pretty much made it to all corners of the globe. Also check out his main page http://www.oldtechnology.net/ he is a keen collector of a lot of other old electronics especially televisions.
My Philips VCR Yahoo Group http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/philips_vcr/ , I've created this group in 2002 and it has attracted VCR enthusiasts from all corners of the globe sharing their valuable technical wisdom, pictures and documentation on this VCR machine. There are a lot of images of a variety of different brands of this VCR too.
Lastly here are a few YouTube videos of some VCR machines in action.
Philips N1502 in operation
Philips N1700 in operation experiencing picture problems