Back to the Future

No, no, this is nothing to do with a Michael J. Fox film. Rather, this is to do with giant steps forward that seem to result in equally giant steps backwards. [Aside: What is Michael J. Fox’s middle name? Andrew – go figure!]

34 years ago JVC launched its VHS (Video Home System) tape video recording system. Though generally thought less good than its Sony rival, Betamax, it caught on and became the market leader. Whichever video tape recording system anyone chose to buy, what could they do? Well, clearly they could record a programme to be watched at a time other than when it was actually broadcast. As Aleksandr might say, “simples”. Indeed! Hang on though, it was possible to go further. The telly had a tuner and the video recorder had a tuner. From our staggeringly wide range of three channels, we could watch one programme whilst recording another. Strewth, there was only one channel that we had to miss! Naturally, the likelihood of there actually being two concurrent programmes worthy of attention was slim but it could be done.

Here we are approaching Xmas 34 years later. The old terrestrial analogue signal is shortly to be turned off and everyone must go digital (or not watch I’m a big brother, get me out of here and come strictly dancing at all). Most folks may well have been digital for some time but it’ll soon be the only option in town. Mr Murdoch’s Sky satellite boxes have been around for many years. We got one despite Murdoch ‘cos our terrestrial signal sucks. We were able to watch one programme on satellite and record another on terrestrial, or vice versa, of course, but only because we had both systems. Take terrestrial away and you’re stuck. You can either watch or record but not both. Well, you can do both but it’d be the same channel/programme. 🙂

Sky+ boxes have also been around for several years. However, with the imminent switching off of the analogue signal, Sky+ box adverts are increasing in frequency trumpeting the fact that people:

… can watch one programme while recording another.

Ye Gods, I could do that 34 years ago! It’s taken most of this time for technology to catch with a facility that was available at the outset. Were I in the media circus, I don’t think I’d be advertising that.

Naturally, the likelihood of there actually being two concurrent programmes worthy of attention …

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