3/26/2015

The Granddaddy of Video




The silver reel you see on your right is an example of the first videotape format ever released into the world (as compared to the size of a standard VHS videocassette tape on the left). The name of this format is 2-inch Quadruplex, also known simply as "Quad". The "2-inch" refers to the size of the width of the tape (please see below the open reel brown 2-inch-wide Quad tape versus the 1/2-inch VHS tape encased in a plastic shell, respectively).



CBS was the first on-air user of the 2” Quad machine, to tape-delay the evening CBS News broadcast with Douglas Edwards on Nov. 30, 1956. From that point until the late 1970s, the vast majority of broadcast television was recorded onto this video format.  

In the WJZ-TV and WMAR-TV Collections at the Langsdale Library Special Collections Department, we hold approximately three hundred 2-inch Quad reels from these local television stations. Highlights from the labels suggest that they are masters of several local television broadcasts and even national broadcast news ranging in date from the early 1960s to the early 1980s. However, we can't be entirely sure of the content until the tapes are digitized--an expensive endeavor due to the professional expertise, time, and obsolete equipment needed. According to an estimate by the Library of Congress' National Recording Preservation Plan, by approximately 2027 these tapes will no longer be physically able to even undergo digitization! Contact specialcollections@ubalt.edu for more information.

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