EIAJ-1 was a standard for
video tape recorder A video tape recorder (VTR) is a tape recorder designed to record and playback video and audio material from magnetic tape. The early VTRs were open-reel devices that record on individual reels of 2-inch-wide (5.08 cm) tape. They were us ...
s (VTRs) developed by the
Electronic Industries Association of Japan Founded in 1948, the Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ) was one of two Japanese electronics trade organizations that were merged into the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA). Prior to the me ...
with the cooperation and assistance of several Japanese electronics manufacturers in 1969. It was the first standardized format for industrial/non-broadcast VTRs using a
helical scan Helical scan is a method of recording high-frequency signals on magnetic tape. It is used in open-reel video tape recorders, video cassette recorders, digital audio tape recorders, and some computer tape drives. History Earl E Masterson fr ...
system employing open reel tape. Previously, each manufacturer of machines in this market used a different proprietary format, with differing tape speeds, scanner drum diameters, bias frequencies, tracking head placement, and so on, although most used 1/2" wide tape. As a result,
video tape Videotape is magnetic tape used for storing video and usually sound in addition. Information stored can be in the form of either an analog or digital signal. Videotape is used in both video tape recorders (VTRs) and, more commonly, videocassett ...
s recorded on one make and/or model of VTR could only be interchanged with other machines using that specific format, hampering compatibility. For example, a reel of tape recorded on a Panasonic machine would not play on a Sony machine, and vice versa. The EIAJ-1 standard ended this incompatibility, giving those manufacturers a standardized format, interchangeable with almost all VTRs subsequently brought to market around that time. The format offered
black-and-white Black-and-white (B&W or B/W) images combine black and white in a continuous spectrum, producing a range of shades of grey. Media The history of various visual media began with black and white, and as technology improved, altered to color. ...
(and later colour) video recording and playback on 1/2″
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic storage made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on the earlier magnetic wire recording from Denmark. Devices that use magnet ...
on a 7″ diameter open reel, with portable units using smaller 5″ diameter reels.


The EIAJ-1 standard paved the way for consumer oriented non-professional analog video recording technology to become more affordable and widespread, with many businesses, schools, government agencies, hospitals, and even some consumers adopting the format in the early 1970s. Some of the first public-access television cable stations that started up around that time used EIAJ-1 equipment extensively, due to its portability, low cost, and versatility. The original Sony
Portapak A Portapak is a battery-powered, self-contained video tape analog recording system. Introduced to the market in 1967, it could be carried and operated by one person. Earlier television cameras were large and heavy, required a specialized vehicle ...
, model
CV-2000 CV-2000 was one of the world's first home video tape recorders (VTR), introduced by Sony in August, 1965. The 'CV' in the model name stood for 'Consumer Video'. This was Sony's domestic format throughout the 1960s. It was the first fully transist ...
, used a proprietary format, but was later superseded by an EIAJ-1 compatible version, the AV-3400.


When EIAJ-1 was standardized, no
videocassette recorder A videocassette recorder (VCR) or video recorder is an electromechanical device that records analog audio and analog video from broadcast television or other source on a removable, magnetic tape videocassette, and can play back the recording. ...
s had yet been introduced. One of the main drawbacks to the format was the need to carefully thread the end of the tape around the head drum, through a gap between the capstan and pinch roller, and around a variety of guides and tensioners. If the user made any errors in doing this, the machine would malfunction and the tape could become damaged. So, another version, EIAJ-2, was released later on that used a single-reel cartridge (with the take-up reel being built into the VTR) instead of an open take up reel. Otherwise, the recording specifications were exactly the same.


By 1971, Sony introduced the first successful videocassette system, the
U-matic U-matic is an analogue recording videocassette format first shown by Sony in prototype in October 1969, and introduced to the market in September 1971. It was among the first video formats to contain the videotape inside a cassette, as oppo ...
format. The U-Matic system offered many advantages over EIAJ-1, including color recording as standard, stereo sound, and automatic tape threading. However, EIAJ-1 equipment remained in use for some years as it was less expensive than U-Matic machines or tape, EIAJ-1 equipment was lighter and more compact, and portable battery operated EIAJ-1 machines with companion video cameras were already available (such as the AV-3400, mentioned above). It was not until the mid-1970s, that portable U-Matic machines and compatible portable color cameras were introduced. Neither the EIAJ-1 nor the U-Matic format were ever used in a
camcorder A camcorder is a self-contained portable electronic device with video and recording as its primary function. It is typically equipped with an articulating screen mounted on the left side, a belt to facilitate holding on the right side, hot-swa ...
(one piece) camera recorder unit, because of the size and weight of the mechanism involved. The recorder and camera were always separate units, connected by a multi conductor cable. The advent of the camcorder did not occur until the introduction of smaller, lighter cassette formats, such as
Betamax Betamax (also known as Beta, as in its logo) is a consumer-level analog recording and cassette format of magnetic tape for video, commonly known as a video cassette recorder. It was developed by Sony and was released in Japan on May 10, 1975, ...
and VHS.


External links

Information & specifications on EIAJ-1


* Experimental Television Center
Panasonic 1/2" specs
* Experimental Television Center
Sony AV-3400 Portapak

{{Video storage formats History of television Television terminology Video storage Audiovisual introductions in 1969 Discontinued media formats