Skip to main content

History of U-Matic VCR Recorders

HISTORY OF U-MATIC RECORDERS AND PLAYERS
WORKING WITH UNIVERSITIES, PRODUCTION AND INDUSTRIES TO CONVERT ARCHIVES OF U-MATIC TAPE

We are highly recommended for our archival conversions to 10bit uncompressed, FFV1 and Pro-Res digital files.  Our services start from 1 unit to the many 1000's, supporting archives in the important conversion of magnetic tape media.

Please contact cheryl@oxfordduplicationcentre.com or call 01865 457000 for more information.


History of U-Matic Players

U-matic is an analogue recording videocassette format first shown by Sony in prototype in October 1969 and introduced to the market in September 1971. It was among the first video formats to contain the videotape inside a cassette, as opposed to the various reel-to-reel or open-reel formats of the time.

By 1974, U-matic had established its dominance in the non-broadcast AV field:

 “The U-matic has become so widespread in industrial and business communications,” wrote Broadcast Management/Engineering, “that tape is a new vernacular in broad reaches of industry.” The cassettes and decks were relatively compact, very easy to use, rugged, and reliable.

In the words of author James Lardner:

“Decisively rejected by the consumer market for which it had been intended, the U-matic became a stunning success just the same.”

 

TYPES OF U-MATIC MACHINES

U-MATIC HISTORY·         U-Matic Low-Band – PAL/NTSC/SECAM Counties

·         1st Revision: U-Matic High-Band - PAL Counties

·         2nd Revision: U-Matic SP High-Band – PAL/NTSC Counties

·         U-Matic BVU-SP High-Band – PAL/NTSC Counties

U-Matic, and then later the U-Matic SP (superior Performance) models were categorised as either:

·         VP – Video Playback

·         VO – Industrial Video Recorder  

Broadcast U-Matics were categorised as:

·         BVU - Broadcast Video Recorder/Editor. 

These were available as either portable or studio decks.

Early studio and all portable U-Matic VCRs had a drawer-type mechanism which required the tape to be inserted, followed by manual closure of the drawer (a "top-loading" mechanism).

Later studio VCRs accepted the cassette from a port opening and the cassette was pulled into and seated in the transport (a "front-loading" mechanism).

 

INTRODUCTION OF HIGH-BAND AND SP FOR PAL COUNTRIES

U-MATIC SP HISTORY
U-matic saw two revisions to improve its image quality. The first was High-Band or Hi-Band, introduced for PAL countries, with the original revision becoming known as Low-Band. 

This was followed by SP (superior performance), for NTSC and PAL countries.

Both revisions increased the FM carrier frequencies, increasing the available bandwidth on the tape, hence increasing image quality.

PAL U-matic Hi-Band increased the FM carrier frequency to 4.8-6.4 MHz, while U-matic SP increased it even further to 5.6-7.2 MHz, while increasing the colour carrier frequency to 924 kHz.

 

U-MATIC USE FOR BROADCAST

Sony introduced the semi backwards-compatible High-Band Broadcast Video U-matic (BVU) format. The BVU format had an improved colour recording system and lower noise levels. BVU gained immense popularity in England and location programme-making, spelling the end of 16 mm film in everyday production. 

The first key development that made it possible to use U-matic tapes for broadcast was the introduction in 1973 of an advanced, digital time base corrector that could stabilize the helical signal sufficiently for broadcast.

The second was Sony’s introduction in 1974 of ‘high-band’ U-matic decks, which provided 50% greater bandwidth than the original decks had.

 

MAGNETIC TAPE STRUCTURE

U-Matic SP introduced a higher quality chrome dioxide tape.  Chrome dioxide tape uses a magnetic emulsion formula CrO22. It is still considered by many oxide and tape manufacturers to have been one of the best magnetic recording particulates ever invented.

Prior to chrome dioxide tape, U-Matic tapes were made of iron oxide magnetic particles. 

The structure is made up of an adhesive binder mixed with the recording material which adheres to the substrate which holds the structure together. A lubricant is usually provided to minimize head and tape wear.

 

SONY U-MATIC SPELLS THE END OF 16MM FILM PROCESSING

Television networks and affiliates, eager to speed up news production and eliminate the heavy costs of 16mm film processing, quickly embraced the new technology. No doubt Sony’s introduction in 1975 of a complete U-matic editing system, combining record and playback decks, an electronic controller, and a stable synch source, also played a role.

 

ARCHIVING PURPOSES

One critical issue facing archives that hold U-matic tapes is the increasing unavailability of usable decks, technicians to repair them, and expertise to calibrate and maintain them. Though many different models of U-matic playback and record decks were produced,

High end U-Matic recorders were expressly designed to meet increasing demands for top quality video recording in the commerce and industry sectors.  The first ‘industrial’ U-Matic, the VO-5800 offered a host of very useful functions, most of which are controlled from the front panel.  The most technically advanced of the Sony range are the broadcast models, with model names beginning with “BVU or U-Matic SP.” The BVU-950 and the U-Matic SP model VO–9850 are particularly recommended.

 

STICKY SHED SYNDROME

Unfortunately, most U-matic tapes have not aged well. After decades in storage, many of the videotapes now have sticky-shed syndrome, a condition in which the oxide that holds the visual content is literally flaking off the polyester tape base and is moist and gummy in texture. When a videotape has sticky-shed, not only will it not play correctly, but the residue can also clog up the tape heads in the U-matic playback deck, then transfer the contaminant to other tapes played afterwards in the same deck.

To combat this, we always bake (dehumidify) our U-matic videotapes in a scientific oven at 52 Celsius (125 Fahrenheit) for at least 10 hours. We also clean the video heads inside our U-matic decks before each playback, using denatured alcohol.

 

TECHNICAL ELEMENTS

·       The two Hi-Band variants are known as BVU and BVU-SP alternatively known as U-Matic SP.  BVU-SP records and plays differently to BVU. As such, U-Matic tapes recorded in BVU and BVU-SP formats cannot normally be played on Low-Band decks.

·        Low-Band and Hi-Band formats are not interchangeable.  Whilst they use the same size tapes, a Hi-Band recording will play back in black and white only on a Lo-Band machine.

·         U-Matic Abbreviation Meaning

o   VP = VIDEO PLAYBACK

o   VO = VIDEO RECORDER/PLAYBACK

o   BVU = BROADCAST VIDEO UNIT

 

U-MATIC RECORDING TYPE

PAL

NTSC

SECAM

LOW-BAND

YES

YES

YES

HIGH-BAND

YES

SP YES

NO

SP

YES

YES

 

 

 

YEAR

CONSUMER TOP LOADING

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1969

Sony VR-1000 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1971

Sony VP-1000 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1971

Sony VP-1100 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

PROFESSIONAL TOP LOADING DECK

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1971

Sony VO-1600 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1972

Sony VO-1700 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1972

Sony VO-1800 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1976

Sony VP-2000 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1981-83

Sony VP-2011 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1977

Sony VP-2030 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1981-83

Sony VP-2260 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1976

Sony VO-2600 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1980-82

Sony VO-2610 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1971

Sony VO-2611 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1977

Sony VO-2630 TL

U-MATIC

PAL/SECAM/NTSC

LB

1976

Sony VO-2800 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1976

Sony VO-2850 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1980

Sony VO-2860 TL

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

PROFESSIONAL PORTABLE

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1974

Sony VP-3000

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1974

Sony VO-3800

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1979

Sony VO-4700

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1979

Sony VO-4800P

U-MATIC

PAL/SECAM

LB

1979

Sony VO-4800

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1979

Sony VO-6800P

U-MATIC

PAL/SECAM

LB

1979

Sony VO-6800

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

BVU BROADCAST PORTABLE HB

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1975

Sony BVU 50P

HB

PAL

HB LB

1975

Sony BVU 50

HB

NTSC

HB LB

1975

Sony BVU 100P

HB

PAL

HB LB

1975

Sony BVU 100

HB

NTSC

HB LB

1975

Sony BVU 110P

HB

PAL

HB LB

1975

Sony BVU 110

HB

NTSC

HB LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

BVU BROADCAST PORTABLE SP

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1981-90

Sony BVU 150P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1981-90

Sony BVU 150

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1981-82

Sony BVU 200P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1981-82

Sony BVU 200

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

TYPE 5 U-MATIC DECK

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1982-84

Sony VP-5000

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1984-88

Sony VP-5020

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1984-88

Sony VP-5030P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

1984-88

Sony VP-5040P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

1984-88

Sony VO-5600

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1984-88

Sony VO-5630P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

1984-88

Sony VO-5800P

U-MATIC

PAL/SECAM

LB

1984-88

Sony VO-5800

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1984-88

Sony VO-5850P

U-MATIC

PAL

LB

1984-88

Sony VO-5850

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

SERIES  7 U-MATIC DECK

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1988

Sony VP-7000

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1989

Sony VP-7020

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1989

Sony VP-7030P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

1989

Sony VP-7040P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

1989

Sony VO-7040P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

1990

Sony VO-7600

U-MATIC

NTSC

LB

1990

Sony VO-7630P

U-MATIC

PAL/NTSC/SECAM

LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

PROFESSIONAL PORTABLE SP

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1989

Sony VO-8800P

SP

PAL

SP HB

1989

Sony VO-8800

SP

NTSC

SP HB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

BVU 800 SERIES DECK HIGH-BAND

 

 

 

1983-89

Sony BVU-800P

HB

PAL

HB LB

1983-89

Sony BVU-800

HB

NTSC

HB LB

1983-89

Sony BVU-820P

HB

PAL

HB LB

1983-89

Sony BVU-820

HB

NTSC

HB LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

SERIES 9 DECK SP

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1987

Sony VP-9000P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1987

Sony VP-9000

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1988

Sony VO-9600P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1988

Sony VO-9600

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1989

Sony VO-9800P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1989

Sony VO-9800

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1989

Sony VO-9850P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1989

Sony VO-9850

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

BVU 800 SERIES DECK SP

TYPE

VIDEO SIGNAL

BAND

1987-90

Sony BVU-850P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1987-90

Sony BVU-850

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1987-90

Sony BVU-870P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1987-90

Sony BVU-870

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR

BVU 900 SERIES DECK SP

 

 

 BAND

1993

Sony BVU-900P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1993

Sony BVU-900

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1993

Sony BVU-920P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1993

Sony BVU-920

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

1993

Sony BVU-950P

SP

PAL

SP HB LB

1993

Sony BVU-950

SP

NTSC

SP HB LB

 

1.       LB – Low-Band

2.       HB- High-Band

3.       SP – Superior Performance

Did you know Sony won an Emmy for the U-matic system in 1976?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Glass Plate Negative Scanning in Oxfordshire UK

The Preservation of Glass Plate Negatives http://oxfordduplicationcentre.com/Photographic-Glass-Plate-Scanning-Service-Oxfordshire-UK.html Highly recommended in Oxfordshire and Thames Valley as one of the leading scanning and archive specialists, we hold 5***** testimonials from University of Oxford, B4 Business, Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers Museums to include thousands of consumer clients. From small orders to large bulk order archives our team excel in all areas of digital scanning solutions. Our digitisation and scanning department can support public and corporate media to include glass plate negatives and lantern slides . Once scanned the negatives can be converted into digital formats such as RAW, JPEG, JPEG2000, TIFF, BMP and Adobe PDF in full colour or greyscale.

NON DESTRUCTIVE BOOK & DOCUMENT SCANNING

NON DESTRUCTIVE AND DESTRUCTIVE DIARY AND BOOK SCANNING Non destructive book scanning supports clients with an affordable option for all books, regardless  of the paper type or whether colour or black and white.  We can offer searchable PDF and editable Word documents for each book scanned. Our digitisation services extend to rare book scanning and bound volumes. This includes diaries, magazines, newspapers and any other type of files, all sizes and either small or large volume. Digital formats and ABBYY Fine Reader Professional OCR technology offered in your chosen files. Books Scanned and Returned Intact No Price Difference for Colour or Greyscale All Orders Receive PDF of your books OCR Options with ABBYY Fine Reader Available Word and Searchable PDF Options Books Scanned at 300dpi for Black and White, 600dpi for Greyscale or Colour Many Book Sizes Catered For Book Scanning OCR Technology Local History Book Scanning Archiving Kind regards Cheryl Director Oxford Duplication T

The Repair Shop - How To Spot A Ferrotype Camera 1855-1940s

After watching The Repair Shop on BBC1 restore a beautiful and rather rare ferrotype camera I thought a blog on the process would be interesting. Not only did they repair but they managed to have the camera working, taking photographs. This was very inspirational given the age of the camera. ABOUT FERROTYPE PROCESS Ferrotypes first appeared in America in the 1850s, but didn’t become popular in Britain until the 1870s. They were still being made by while-you-wait street photographers as late as the 1950s. The ferrotype process was a variation of the collodion positive, and used a similar process to  wet plate photography . A very underexposed negative image was produced on a thin iron plate. It was blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling, and coated with a collodion photographic emulsion. The dark background gave the resulting image the appearance of a positive. Unlike collodion positives, ferrotypes did not need mounting in a case to produce a positive i