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1958 April 14

Photo: BBC

The BBC's answer to Ampex's two-inch quadruplex videotape recorder is VERA: Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus. The project was under engineer Peter Axon and started in 1952. A recorder was demonstrated within the BBC in 1956 and took another two years to develop before being shown to the world, by which time Ampex quadruplex recorders were making serious in-roads into the potential market.

The project grew out of a recognition by senior BBC engineers that telerecording (kinescoping) was a commonplace in American television studios at the end of the 1940s but was rarely used by the BBC—and then only for special occasions of which a permanent record was required.
        Norman Collins, the BBC's Controller of Television, wrote in a BBC memo in September 1948, 'The economic possibility of running an extended television service depends on recorded television programmes or the access to other sources of film material. Possibly on both.' Following a visit to the United States in December 1948, he added: ' I regard the development of television recording as the first of the BBC Television engineering priorities, with development of microwave a close second.'

VERA stored 405-line monochrome television as a linear recording on half-inch magnetic tape travelling at 200 inches (5.08m) per second. The 20-inch diameter spools gave 15 minutes' recording time.


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