1969 July 21
The quest for home video
Page 1: The system
Source: CBS July 1970, Terra Media Archives
Of all the film-based video formats, EVR (Electronic Video Recording) made the greatest impact, mainly because of the heavyweight status of its developers. Head of the technology team was Dr Peter C Goldmark, president and director of research at CBS Laboratories, who had been involved in developing the CBS colour television that almost became the US standard and was responsible for the LP disc. CBS retained North American rights and formed the EVR Partnership for the rest of the world. Members of the EVR Partnership with CBS were Imperial Chemical Industries of the UK and Ciba-Geigy, the Swiss chemicals firm.
CBS announced EVR in October 1967. The 750 ft film was stored on a seven-inch diameter spool in a plastic cartridge. It used a twin-track 8.75mm film onto which signals were transferred by electron beam recording, one monochrome track in each direction of travel. It was thus not an electronic image, not really 'video' (except in the TV industry's technical sense) and certainly not intended for home recording. The players did feature still framing and manual individual frame advance, as well as the ability to switch from one picture track to the other in monochrome mode.
The first public demonstration was staged at the Internavex exhibition in London in July 1969. Queen Elizabeth came along in her tiara and decorations to inspect the system. [We have not traced at which event this occurred. Do you know?]
[Source: EVR Partnership August 1972, Terra Media Archives]
A colour version was demonstrated by CBS in March 1970. In this version one track was used for luminance information, the other encoded for chrominance (to combine with the luminance information to produce colour images). A high-speed printer allowed a 20-minute programme to be copied in around 30 seconds.
CBS never undertook player manufacturing itself, although it retained a monopoly on the production of cartridges and processing of programme material. The company announced its withdrawal from the EVR Partnership on 23 December 1971 and ran down its New Jersey plant, having lost up to $20m on the project. Motorola ceased production of players in mid 1972, but towards the end of that year EVR still had enough momentum for a consortium to be formed in Japan by Teijin, ICI, Ciba-Geigy, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Mainichi Broadcasting. Called by the long-winded name New International Electronic Video Cassette Company Nippon EVR, the grouping was capitalised at ¥1bn. It effectively took over EVR as other partners abandoned the system in the face of growing competition from videotape-based systems. EVR Systems, which had kept the flag flying in the US since CBS and Motorola's abandonment of the system, was finally closed in November 1974.
EVR found customers among the business community and was able to continue reporting user deals even into 1975. In 1975 Mitsubishi collaborated with arcade games manufacturer to develop a video game application for EVR. After successive retrenchments, however, it fizzled out and was barely in evidence by 1976. Although it was never a serious consumer proposition, EVR did prove one thing: there was a market for a system that allowed playback of 'videograms', at least in education, industry and commerce.
Source: EVR Partnership 1970, Terra Media Archives
The EVR Introductory Catalogue: Phase 1 Education Training and General Interest, published for the UK in 1970, 'lists some 3,000 titles which could, subject in some cases to appropriate clearance, be made available in EVR cartridge form'. The potential suppliers were mostly industrial film distributors, plus the BBC and five ITV companies.
Page 2: Manufacturing
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