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Peter Cochrane's Blog: Goodbye VHS

Of course I could programme that damn clock if I really wanted to...

Written and edited on the A12, M25, M4 and M5 heading to Plymouth and dispatched to silicon.com from Taunton Deane motorway services via wi-fi.

This Christmas we had to say goodbye to an ageing friend - the VHS player! After many years of sterling service, from which the entire family derived much pleasure and enjoyment, it had to go. It was taking up a lot of space and just gathering dust - I can't remember the last time it was used in earnest.

I never did manage to learn how to set the clock, or programme it, but - hey - who cares? It was mostly used to play movies, and only very occasionally to record off air. Over what seems to have been a very short time period the cupboard full of VHS tapes has been replaced by DVDs, which in turn are systematically being transferred to a domestic server.

How could we live without the higher definition video and the surround sound offered by DVD? Inconceivable! So the old VHS now resides in the garage - just in case there is an unexpected need - and family entertainment has been upgraded again. So what, besides the DVD player, has replaced the VHS box? Digital TV!

Because of my travel schedule and the activities of my family, I never did get around to satellite TV, and cable is not available where I live. So entirely by chance I have skipped a generation (or two) of technology and have leapt to the leading edge. Frankly I had contemplated closing down the TV system altogether throughout my home and office but boxes are now so cheap and so easy to install, who cares? But it is a pity they cannot improve the content which seems to head further south year-on-year.

I was an early VHS adopter, and in its 30-year history I purchased one machine after another and watched the technology get less clunky and more sophisticated. At the same time VHS performance improved, as did reliability, whilst the use of raw materials, and price, reduced dramatically. But in the end a newer more powerful technology took over - the DVD.

Will DVD last 30 years? I think not! I reckon the industry has 10 years (or so) to make a killing before high definition server/DVD-based systems take over. The good news is - absolutely everything (technology wise) improves - and the price will still continue to fall.

Now, back to setting that damn clock and programming! I'm still not sure I'll be able to do it. Of course I could if I really wanted to but I'm always too busy... think I'd better delegate to my son!

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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