The camcorder combined a camera and videotape player into one handheld unit. It made moviemaking exponentially easier and less expensive, opening the field to countless new auteurs.


The first video making system offered for the home was by Ampex. Advertised in the 1963 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog it cost $30,000 ($247,201 adjusted to 2018) and included a large television camera, TV monitor, and 100-pound Ampex VR-1500 video recorder. The price included a visit from an Ampex engineer who would set the system up.

In 1982 or 1983, depending on the sources, Sony or JVC released the first portable video recorder with a VCR built-in, a camcorder. Before then, video equipment would require a separate VCR making the equipment difficult or impossible to operate without two people and far less portable. There is no obvious record related to the actual innovator of the camcorder. Furthermore, citations are credited to companies, not to individuals working in a company which is usually the case.

We seldom quote on InnoWiki because we’re looking for overviews and patterns, not in-depth bios. However, Mark Shapiro’s epic blog post on the history of camcorders is entertaining and educational.

Mark sums it up:

“According to the Consumer Electronics Association, in 1982, both JVC and Sony announced the “CAMera/recorder”, or camcorder, combinations. On June 1, 1982, JVC’s camcorder used its new mini-VHS format, VHS-C. In Japan five months later, Sony announced its Betamovie Beta camcorder, which was promoted with the slogan “Inside This Camera Is A VCR.” The first Betamovie camcorder hit stores in May 1983. It was a record only machine without an electronic viewfinder.

“In February 1984, photo giant Kodak introduced a new camcorder format, 8mm, in its first 8mm camcorder, the KodaVision 2000. In 1985, Sony introduced the first chip-based camcorders. Called Video 8, it was also Sony’s first 8mm camcorder. The same year, JVC introduced VHS-C, a compact version of VHS cassettes. The next year, 1989, JVC introduced S-VHS. Still analog video, it provided it separated the video signal into two distinct channels. This provided better color and higher resolution, about 400 lines compared to VHS at 220 lines. This higher resolution enables users to actually edit and copy their videos without worrying that their second and third generation tapes would be fuzzy. About the same time, Sony also joined the s-video movement and introduced their first Hi8 camcorder, the venerable CCD-V99 camcorder.

“In 1992, Sharp became the first company to build in a color LCD screen to replace the conventional viewfinder. In fact, their LCD screen was basically the entire camera with the lens assembly hanging off of it. No longer did users have to squint through a tiny eyepiece. This has become a standard feature of almost every consumer camcorder. Finally, today’s digital video technology first arrived in late 1995. Panasonic and Sony brought out the first Digital Video camcorders, soon followed by Sharp and JVC.”

Mark Shapiro

Personal Portable Music Player

Battery operated portable personal music players are fun, enabling users to build a cocoon of their own music.

Portable radios and stereos date back to the invention of the transistor. Over time, these grew in size and power. Enormous stereos run from batteries, “boom boxes,” were commonplace. However, boom boxes played music from speakers and one person’s music is another person’s noise.


Eventually, on July 1, 1979, Sony introduced the Walkman TPS-L2, the first portable modern music player. The system featured high-quality headphones and played cassette tapes. Unlike boom boxes, the Walkman was small enough fit in a (large) pocket. At $150 (about $500 USD in 2019). Sony predicted they would sell 5,000 units per month and subsequently sold 50,000 in the first two months. Initially introduced in Japan, the Walkman migrated to the US in June 1980.

The first Walkman ad | The Walkman Archive
Sony’s First Walkman Ad

Sony dominated portable music in the 1980’s, first with their cassette player and later with a DC version. However, due largely to inter-company conflict, Sony lost the market with the introduction of MP3 technology and digital music. In addition to their electronics business, Sony owned a music and movie studio. Unlike prior technology, MP3’s could make an unlimited number of music copies. Executives at the studio reviled MP3’s due to piracy and refused to release a Walkman that supported the popular MP3 format.


There were many MP3 players, the vast majority of them underwhelming. Eventually, on Oct. 23, 2001, Apple released the iPod which supported MP3’s. It was not the first portable MP3 player but was substantially easier to use than competitors. Arguing that piracy was out-of-control as people “shared” pirated music tracks over the internet, Apple convinced the studios to allow the company to sell individual songs for $.99.

Quoting articles from the time:

“The iTunes Music Store may be just the thing to get Apple rocking again too. As everyone knows, it’s been a tough couple of years for the computer industry as well. Apple swung back into the black in the first quarter of 2003 after two quarterly losses, but its profits were only $14 million, compared with $40 million a year ago. And as popular as Apple’s iPod portable MP3 player may be, it contributed less than $25 million of Apple’s $1.48 billion in revenues last quarter. So Jobs is betting that by offering customers ‘Hotel California’ for 99 cents, he can sell not just more iPods but more Macs too.”

Songs In The Key Of Steve Steve Jobs may have just created the first great legal online music service. That’s got the record biz singing his praises. Fortune Magazine. May 12, 2003. (emphasis added)

On Apr. 28, 2003, Apple opened the iTunes Music Store for use with the iPod; in the first week, iTunes customers purchased over a million songs. By 2018, Apple’s quarterly revenue was about $60 billion per quarter.

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Andreas Pavel filed patents for a portable music player, called the Stereobelt, in 1977 but failed to sell the idea to any music company. After protracted litigation ー where Sony won and lost various rounds in different jurisdictions ー Sony paid him a substantial settlement in 2003. Kane Kramer held the first broad patent for portable digital music players but lacked funds to renew it and allowed it to elapse before digital music players became popular.

Console Gaming Systems

Console game systems are specialized computers that play games.

Ralph Baer came up with the idea of a video-game system that connects to televisions in 1966. Magnavox agreed to manufacture and distribute his seventh prototype, in 1971, branded the Odyssey. Magnavox sold about 350,000 units, at the then steep price of $100, before discontinuing it in 1978.

Nolan Bushnell, inspired by Odyssey, founded Atari. He built up his company, selling it in 1976 for about $30 million. In 1978, Atari fired Bushnell for “fighting like cats and dogs”.

Regardless, Atari went on to become wildly profitable but, eventually, sales declined due to poor games. However, Atari literally buried one game, “E.T.” in the middle of the night in a desert landfill due to poor quality. Specifically, the game consists of quickly falling into an inescapable hole.

Subsequently, various other game makers came and went. Japan-based Nintendo created a popular system. Eventually, scrappy startup Sega challenged Atari. Sony eventually took the market followed by Microsoft. Today, Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft all compete in the console gaming market.

Despite the first-mover advantage, neither Magnavox nor Baer was never a meaningful market participant in video games after the Odyssey. Eventually, Atari ceased making videogame consoles a the end of 1991.
Atari: Game Over, Full Documentary