Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus (VERA) was an early
analog recording Analog recording is a technique used for the recording of analog signals which, among many possibilities, allows analog audio for later playback. Analog audio recording began with mechanical systems such as the phonautograph and phonograph. ...
videotape 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, videocas ...
format developed from 1952 by the BBC under project manager Dr Peter Axon.


In order to record high frequencies, a tape must move rapidly with respect to the recording or playback head. The frequencies used by video signals are so high that the tape/head speed is on the order of several meters per second (tens of feet per second), an order of magnitude faster than professional analog audio tape recording. The BBC solved the problem by using reels of magnetic tape that passed static heads at a speed of . VERA was capable of recording about 15 minutes (e.g. 4,572 meters) of
405-line The 405-line monochrome analogue television broadcasting system was the first fully electronic television system to be used in regular broadcasting. The number of television lines influences the image resolution, or quality of the picture. It was ...
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. ...
video per reel, and the picture tended to wobble because of some jitter (uneven speed) of the tape transport. Later video recorders used a time base corrector to remove this jitter and make synchronization with the studio house possible. In order to cope with 625-line
PAL Phase Alternating Line (PAL) is a colour encoding system for analogue television. It was one of three major analogue colour television standards, the others being NTSC and SECAM. In most countries it was broadcast at 625 lines, 50 fields ( ...
SECAM SECAM, also written SÉCAM (, ''Séquentiel de couleur à mémoire'', French for ''color sequential with memory''), is an analog color television system that was used in France, some parts of Europe and Africa, and Russia. It was one of th ...
colour transmissions VERA would likely have required an even faster, and possibly unfeasible, tape speed. Development began in 1952, but VERA was not perfected until 1958. It was given a live demonstration on-air on ''
Panorama A panorama (formed from Greek πᾶν "all" + ὅραμα "view") is any wide-angle view or representation of a physical space, whether in painting, drawing, photography, film, seismic images, or 3D modeling. The word was originally coined ...
'' on April 14, 1958; Richard Dimbleby, seated by a clock, talked for a couple of minutes about the new method of vision recording with instant playback, and then the tape was wound back and replayed. The picture was slightly watery, but reasonably watchable,Description from seeing the original transmission. Part of it can be seen o
and instant playback was something completely new. However, by this time it had already been rendered obsolete by the
Ampex Ampex is an American electronics company founded in 1944 by Alexander M. Poniatoff as a spin-off of Dalmo-Victor. The name AMPEX is a portmanteau, created by its founder, which stands for Alexander M. Poniatoff Excellence.AbramsoThe Histor ...
quadruplex video recording system. This used wide tapes running at a speed of per second. The rapid tape-to-head speed of quadruplex videotape was achieved by spinning the ''heads'' rapidly on a drum: the system used, with variations, on all videotape systems ever since, as well as DAT. The BBC scrapped VERA and quickly adopted the Ampex system. It has been suggested that the BBC only continued to develop VERA as a bargaining tool, so it would be offered some of the first Ampex machines produced in unstated exchange for abandoning further work on a potential rival, but the colossal disadvantages of VERA and its status as a technological dead-end make this seem highly unlikely.

See also

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 ...


External links

BBC: The rise and rise of the video

youtube.com VERA - Early Video Tape Recorder - Peter Axon interview 1958
* ttp://www.birth-of-tv.org/birth/assetView.do?asset=BIRTHOFTELEV19001___1102013442156 birth-of-tv.org VERA 1958: Vision Electronic Recording Apparatusbr>Introduction to the video recorder
National Science and Media Museum blog
youtube.com VERAThe History of Television, 1942 to 2000, By Albert Abramson, Christopher H. Sterling, page 83youtube.com, Richard Dimbleby demonstrates the new BBC Vision Electronic Recording Apparatus in an edition of Panorama in April 1958.Basic Radio & Television, 2/E, By Sharma, page 447
{{Video storage formats Audiovisual introductions in 1952 Videotape History of television