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PRINT March 2003

MILESTONES

1984: World of Video

Vintage videotapes.


WORLD OF VIDEO OPENED UP on the southeast corner of Twenty-first Street and Second Avenue in New York on November 10, 1984, according to my diary. It was one of the first stores in the city to rent movies, and I think I was its first customer: I lived eleven stories up in the same building in a one-bedroom apartment, house-sitting for a friend who had recently gone to Los Angeles to make videos for a new show called MTV. She had left behind a VCR and a giant TV that had been hooked up to cable and HBO—four things that were still pretty rare at the time. In that Orwellian year, she was my Big Brother.

Half the tapes at World of Video were formatted for Betamax, a longer form than VHS with much clearer sound and sharper images. Sony owned the rights to Betamax and wouldn’t share them, so the alternative, cheaper, inferior VHS version was born. Early VHS recordings had notoriously

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