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Dead medium: the Sony Videomat
From: jort@teleport.com (Daniel B. Howland)
Source(s): Popular Science, May 1966 (Picture News, Page 87)

(((Comments in triple parens by Daniel Howland)))

The See-Yourself-on-TV Vending Machine

"Want to analyze your golf swing, or perfect your fly- casting technique? This unique $3,000 'vending machine' makes it easy. Pop a quarter into the slot, and Sony's Videomat takes and records a moving picture of you for 30 seconds. Overhead lights blink on, and a miniature TV camera, mounted below the unit's TV screen, captures the action.

"The TV pictures are recorded on a rapidly spinning magnetic disk about the size of an LP phonograph record. The machine then plays back the instant movie twice on its built-in 19-inch color TV set. The conventional picture tube was turned sideways to produce a tall, narrow screen == the shape best suited for picturing standing and moving people.

"The low-cost recording disk is a lightweight aluminum hoop covered with a sheet of ultra-thin plastic film that is coated with the same magnetic substance used on conventional magnetic tape. At the start of each new recording, the machine erases the disk, which has a predicted life of several thousand record-playback cycles.

"Besides its obvious use at sports centers and country clubs, Sony expects the unit to be bought by clothing stores, so customers can observe how their clothes fit as they move (((thereby replacing wasteful mirrors costing tens of dollars))), and by cocktail lounges, for the amusement of patrons between drinks. Drama schools and dancing studios should find it a useful teaching aid. ((( An entire production of Hamlet or Swan Lake could be recorded with as few as one hundred of the disks, and viewed up to two times before automatic erasure.)))

(((The Videomat looks like the box a magician might use to stick swords through an assistant, with the sideways video screen about eye level. On top are two headlamps that wouldn't look out of place on the rollbar of a 4X4 truck. The photo shows a modish woman smiling at the image of herself posing. )))

((( The Videomat is a relic of the days when seeing oneself on a video screen was still a novelty. A cartoon from the 1964/1965 World's Fair Official Souvenir Book shows a boy at the RCA pavilion. "Look here, son," says the host, "You've been lost five times, today alone. How about letting some other kids get a crack at being on color TV?" And today we appear on video when we buy a Big Gulp.)))

Daniel B. Howland (jort@teleport.com)
Organization: Journal of Ride Theory