Photo: Dylan Love
This whole Netflix/Qwikster debacle got us wondering about how people first started watching media at home.Sure, they watched television, but what about video? When did this idea of inserting a movie into a device and watching it on a screen at home become normal?
It starts in 1971…
In 1971, the year that Diamonds Are Forever grossed $116 million, Sony released the U-Matic.
It was the one of the first video formats to contain tape inside the cassette as opposed to exposed tape on a reel-to-reel. It found its home in professional production and broadcast. The first rough cut of Apocalypse Now, for example, was recorded to 3 U-Matic cassettes.
Jaws tore up the box office in 1975, the same year that Betamax tapes were introduced to the market.
They quickly found their place for people to shoot home movies and amateur films. Some films were released on Beta, but the video format that came next totally wiped it out.
In 1976, people were flocking to theatres to see Rocky, but JVC shook up the world of home media with the introduction of VHS.
Entire books have been written on the subject of how VHS beat Betamax. Among several other considerations, it has to do with VHS being more affordable and allowing more recording time.
1977 saw the introduction of the Star Wars series to massive success. It was also the year that Magnetic Video, a home video duplication service, started releasing theatrical movies onto Betamax and VHS for consumer purchase.
It's the entire reason we have the concept of video rental.
Grease earned more than $387 million when it debuted in 1978, the same year that the Laserdisc hit the market.
It was a total flop in the US, but it served to lay the foundation for the home video technology that would come.
The DVD was first introduced in Japan in 1996, while people were obsessed with Independence Day.
It was everything the Laserdisc wasn't -- they were smaller, durable, quiet, affordable, and could store more data. As such, people actually wanted them. DVDs took off and we don't think they're going away any time soon.
Titanic was setting records in 1997, the year that Netflix was formed.
The company essentially founded itself on the DVD's best aspects -- because they were small, lightweight, and durable, renting DVDs through the mail was a feasible business model.
When Apple introduced video capabilities to its iPods in 2005, it unveiled a new branch of the iTunes Store that would offer movies and TV shows for sale. It's expanded since then, pulling in more and more content.
Introduced in 2006, the BluRay disc was touted as a way to watch movies at a much higher quality than on DVD. Because they are manufactured in a different way than DVDs, they can hold much more data.
First introduced under a different name, Amazon rebranded its VOD service as 'Amazon Instant Video' in 2008 while the Joker ran amok in The Dark Knight. It's a fairly straightforward streaming video service, and we expect it will become much more interesting with the introduction of the new Amazon tablet.
Now in 2011, we still can't see any good reason why Netflix would tear its business in half, keeping the Netflix name for its streaming side and calling the DVDs-in-the-mail business Qwikster. Only time will tell if it lasts.
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