A recently-uploaded YouTube video has been going viral in the past 24 hours. If you haven’t seen it, it’s over five minutes of New York City, recorded in 1080i digital HD — all the way back in 1993! Most of our video from this era, save the movies that were shot there, shows up foggy and fuzzy on modern monitors. But not this one! Where did the technology come from, a time machine?
Not quite. The video’s uploader, a man who goes by the YouTube handle “Techmoan,” traced the actual source of the footage back to 1993, when it was created for the Japanese HD market — Japan, of course, always gets the cool stuff first, or sometimes exclusively. He says “It’s likely that this footage was shot with a HDVS camera- perhaps a Sony SONY HDC-500 attached to a HDV-10 portable recorder which recorded on UniHi 3/4″ tape.” Filmed for an HD laserdisc, the video was later reused for the new American HD market at the turn of the millennium.
“Techmoan” got the footage from a demo tape used to sell HD VHS tapes….and yes, those were a thing. Not much of a thing, but a thing nonetheless; the format was introduced in 2002 and discontinued in 2004. About five machine models in total, all from the same company, were created to play the D-VHS format. The uploader explains more in this video. As a side note, I actually own the machine he shows here. They’re great for digitizing purposes, since they were as advanced as VHS players ever got.