Time machine: the handycam was mainly used by father

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Ode to the camcorder

Time machine: the handycam was mainly used by father

The Handycam was to camcorders what Chocomel is to chocolate milk. It was the famous camcorder, and it was made by Sony. The camcorder is now almost completely gone, save for some retro fans, but there were decades when those devices accompanied every holiday. Step into the time machine with us to the 80s.

Camcorder

If you were a child in the 80s or 90s, there is a good chance that the moving image that exists of you was shot with a handheld camera or a camcorder. It is a device that was a bit more rectangular than a photo camera and that you held with your hand on the side. There was always a flap on one side with a screen on it and there was also always some kind of telescope available that you could look into with one eye. What you filmed was immediately recorded with a kind of mini video recorder and you could then watch it.

The first camcorder was introduced in 1982 and was still for professionals, but in 1984 Kodak introduced a camcorder for consumers, followed by a Sony Handycam for home use in 1985. There were variants that worked with video tapes, but also variants that you could use with a cable or USB to your computer could import images. Analog cameras worked with various types of VHS, 8mm and Hi8, while digital variants used flash memory, Digital8, MiniDV, Mini DVD-R and a few more such digital formats.

Handycam

However, the analogue one is the nicest, with those videocassettes: very old school. In the 80s and 90s it was really the ultimate gadget, especially for fathers, who were more into technology at the time and were therefore often given the role of cameraman. Weddings, swimming diplomas, children’s parties: everything was recorded with the handycam. Whether it was ever watched again is another matter, but the filming alone was fun. And looking back at those images so many years later can still be very cool, although you will probably first have to visit a company that specializes in transferring those images.

The nice thing about those camcorders was that for the first time you could be a kind of cameraman at home and it was one of the easiest ways to record moving images of people. Many people were also charmed by that small screen on which you could immediately watch the videos or watch what was being filmed: fantastic. And holding it with a handle like that, that had something to do with it. In any case, it really captured the imagination and people enjoyed documenting their growing offspring with the device.

Very retro

As you can see in the advertisements in this article, it is really a dated device. Here too, smartphones have really taken over, even though there were digital handycams eventually. Our smartphone cameras can now take much nicer images, but sometimes we still miss those ‘funniest home videos’ style videos with REC in the picture and a quality that sometimes makes you not even know what exactly you are looking at. Those were the days: back then it was noticeable when you were being filmed. And nowadays it is more the children who film the parents than the other way around. Still, it’s nice to step into that time machine every now and then and see the roles reversed.

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