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A videotape is a recording of images and sounds on to magnetic tape as opposed to movie film or random access digital media. Videotapes are also used for storing scientific or medical data, such as the data produced by an electrocardiogram. In most cases, a helical scan video head rotates against the moving tape to record the data in two dimensions, because video signals have a very high bandwidth, and static heads would require extremely high tape speeds. Videotape is used in both video tape recorders (VTRs) or, more commonly and more recently, video cassette recorders (VCRs) and video cameras. Tape is a linear method of storing information and, since nearly all video recordings made nowadays are digital, it is expected to gradually lose importance as non-linear/random-access methods of storing digital video data become more common.


Early formats

The electronics division of entertainer Bing Crosby's production company, Bing Crosby Enterprises (BCE), gave the world's first demonstration of a videotape recording in Los Angeles on November 11, 1951. Developed by John T. Mullin and Wayne R. Johnson since 1950, the device gave what were described as "blurred and indistinct" images, using a modified Ampex 200 tape recorder and standard quarter-inch (0.6 cm) audio tape moving at 360 inches (9.1 m) per second.[1][2] A year later, an improved version, using one-inch (2.6 cm) magnetic tape, was shown to the press, who reportedly expressed amazement at the quality of the images, although they had a "persistent grainy quality that looked like a worn motion picture". Overall, the picture quality was still considered inferior to the best kinescope recordings on film.[3] Bing Crosby Enterprises hoped to have a commercial version available in 1954, but none came forth.[4] BCE demonstrated a color model in February 1955, using a longitudinal recording on half-inch (1.3 cm) tape, essentially similar to what RCA had demonstrated in 1953 (see below). CBS, RCA's competitor, was about to order BCE machines when Ampex introduced the superior Quadruplex system (see below).[5]

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