What is a VHS cassette tape?

Video Home System (VHS) analog cassette tape

VHS is the acronym for Video Home System.  VHS used a Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) to record and play analog video tapes.  VHS rose to popularity in the 1970s, but has been surpassed by the technology inherent with digital video.

The VHS cassette we refer to today was not always considered the VHS standard.  This 7 1/3" x 4" x 1" cassette, developed by JVC, was part of a format war with Sony who believed their Betamax cassette (6 1/7" x 3 3/4" x 1") should have been the VHS standard.  The JVC cassette won greater acceptance in the media, and the Betamax went on to be considered a VHS alternative.

The standard VHS cassette encloses a Mylar tape on two reels with a maximum length of 1,410 feet.  The video signal is magnetized to the tape using Frequency Modulation (FM) encoding.  Most VHS tapes in North America use the National Television System Committee (NTSC) standard, but others include PAL and SECAM.  Most VHS cassette tapes hold up to two hours of video, but some recording formats can hold up to eight hours of video on a single cassette.

The VHS cassette tape is an inferior means to record and play video, and has been replaced by a variety of digital video formats.  Few new VHS cassettes are being recorded and VCRs are no longer produced.  Because of analog tape aging, many consumers are converting their one-of-a-kind VHS cassette tapes to digital.

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