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Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)

VHS or Video Home System, developed by JVC, is an analog magnetic tape home video format, first developed in the 1970s. A contemporary of the similar Betamax videotape format, meant that titles, including those of Star Trek, were released concurrently in both formats, until Betamax – even though it was technically the superior one of the two – lost the format war and was phased out near the end of the 1980s.

Ironically, a third contemporary competing videotape format, the Video 2000 developed by Philips, was actually the even more superior one technically by far, but was also the first to fall in the format war due to poor marketing decision making, before a titles catalog of any substance could be released. The least qualitative one, VHS, eventually won out through imaginative marketing by making the fullest use of the burgeoning video rental circuit, which had also served the Star Trek franchise well. (see also in this regard: main article)


Star Trek on VHS[]

VHS cassette

A VHS cassette, specifically UK TNG volume 32

The various Star Trek series and movies have been released on VHS ever since the technology came into widespread use.

In the United States, various independent distributors released Star Trek videos, including Columbia House. Columbia House's releases were usually two episode tapes, excepting the two-hour episodes, and the first three part arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. These releases were usually single episode tapes.

CIC Video was the central VHS distributor in Australia, Japan and Western-Europe, in the latter case through via several local branches, each with a certain measure of independency where local marketing strategies, optional language adaptations and box-cover art were concerned. CIC acquired the license from Paramount Pictures to distributed Star Trek VHS releases in those territories as far back as the home video release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Releases by CIC were typically two-episodes-per-tape, although three-episode-per-tape re-releases of Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation were also made.

Paramount Home Entertainment eventually took over all VHS releases in major markets in 1999 – the studio deciding to take distribution in-house. CIC Video was dissolved.


After having successfully fended off the contemporary home video format pretenders CED, LaserDisc, VHD (ironically, developed by JVC itself as an intended format successor), Video 8, and VCD (a Phillips product as well, which failed in the western world due to poor marketing strategies – again), the VHS format, a breakout success for the better part of the three decades pursuant its introduction, eventually fell into rapid decline itself following the successful development of DVD technology. Star Trek VHS releases were superseded by DVD collections, largely due to their compact nature (a single season of a series on VHS could run to between 13-26 VHS tapes, where as a DVD collection could be only 4-5 discs, with the commensurate space reduction), their improved audio-visual quality and durability, and the ability to add special features, even though early releases in the DVD format lacked much in the way of such extras.

Nonetheless, the VHS did not disappear overnight though, as it continued to exist a while longer as a means for television program home recording (in the process serving to preserve many Star Trek TV specials not included on any of the later home video formats, with many of them later posted on YouTube), a feature not carried by the DVD format, until digital alternatives became available in the 2000s with the magnetic videotape finally relegated to media history definitively.

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