Girish Mahajan

Video 2000

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Media type  Magnetic Tape
Standard  Interlaced video
Encoding  PAL
Usage  Home movies
Video 2000

Video 2000 (or V2000; also known as Video Compact Cassette, or VCC) is a consumer videocassette system and analogue recording standard developed by Philips and Grundig to compete with JVC's VHS and Sony's Betamax video technologies. Distribution of Video 2000 products began in 1979 and ended in 1988; they were marketed exclusively in Europe, South Africa and Argentina.


Philips named the videotape standard Video Compact Cassette (VCC) to complement its landmark audio Compact Cassette format introduced in 1963, but the format itself was marketed under the trademark Video 2000.

Video 2000 succeeded Philips's earlier 'VCR' format and its derivatives (VCR-LP and Grundig's SVR). Although some early models and advertising featured a 'VCR' badge based on the older systems' logo, Video 2000 was an entirely new (and incompatible) format that incorporated many technical innovations. Despite this, the format was not a major success and was eventually discontinued, having lost out to the rival VHS system in the videotape format war.

Technological innovations

At the time of its launch Video 2000 offered several innovative features unmatched by the competing formats VHS and Betamax:

  • Only half of the magnetic tape is scanned by a helical scanner during each side pass. The cassette can then be flipped over to use the other half of the tape, thus doubling playing time.
  • The tape is totally enclosed when not in use. Unlike competing formats that have spaces in the cassette for the tape loading mechanism to be inserted, thus exposing the delicate magnetic tape surface, VCCs have a retractable sheath that covers such space. The sheath is retracted as a tape is inserted into the machine and only then can the tape cover be raised to fully expose the tape.
  • Because of its dynamic track following (DTF) technology (involving an advanced, movable video head tip), by design V2000 does not require a video tracking control (however, Grundig's model 1600 lacked DTF).
  • All V2000 VCRs sport an auto-rewind function (later matched by VHS and Betamax)
  • Dynamic noise suppression to reduce tape hiss on the audio track (similar to Dolby on VHS machines)
  • Provision of a data track alongside the video track
  • Channel selection and timer programming are undertaken by a 0-9 numeric keypad
  • While other formats used transparent leader to detect tape end, in a Video Compact Cassette a metal strip on the back of the tape is detected magnetically to trigger auto-stop
  • Multiple motors meant that the mechanism was direct drive - each spool having its own motor and electric brake
  • Direct control of any function, so with a cassette inserted one could just press play without switching the machine on first. Machines would switch off after a short period of inactivity too
  • If record was pressed when the machine was empty or had a record-protected cassette in it, the machine would open the cassette carriage
  • Automatically winding the tape to a tape counter value input on the keypad ("go to").
  • Thanks to DTF, V2000 is able to play both fields of the image in still frame mode, providing full vertical resolution whereas VHS and Betamax could only reproduce one field, giving only half of the normal vertical resolution. A real advantage of DTF on all but the very first V2000 models is the ability to provide picture search without noise bars across the screen, a feature domestic VHS or Betamax machines were only ever able to approach by introducing complex multi-head drums.

    Although Philips and Grundig agreed on a common tape format, they came up with machines that were radically different mechanically. Building on its experience with VCR, Grundig machines featured a Betamax-style loading ring to gently pull the tape around the video heads in a 'U-wrap', while Philips used an 'M-wrap' similar to that in VHS machines. Curiously, when Philips launched its second generation home-grown VHS recorders (VR6467, VR6760, etc) they again used an 'U-wrap' layout. This U-wrap style "Charly" deck was used in many Philips-built VHS recorders well into the first half of the 1990s. Grundig also used U-wrap in its own VHS decks for a short while before reverting to Panasonic-manufactured decks.

    Not long before the end of production Philips introduced a half-speed mode, the V2000 XL or eXtra Long, doubling capacity and making it possible to store 16 hours (eight hours per side) on one single tape. This was featured in Philips VR2840 and Grundig's Video 2x8 machines.

    Though linear stereo sound was available on some models, both VHS and Betamax were offering hifi stereo sound with near-CD quality by the mid 1980s.

    Construction of the Video Compact Cassette

    Despite the name, VCCs are marginally larger than VHS cassettes — 5mm shorter, but a millimeter thicker and 6mm deeper. They have two co-planar reels containing half-inch (12.5mm) wide chromium dioxide magnetic tape. The format utilised only a quarter-inch (6.25mm) of the half-inch tape on a given 'side', and so it is occasionally referred to erroneously as a quarter-inch tape format despite its physical tape width.

    While VHS and Beta tapes have a break-off tab to protect recordings from erasure (as in audio Compact Cassettes and, once broken, the cavity left by the missing tab must be covered or filled before the tape can be reused), VCCs employ a reversible solution: a switch on the tape edge can be turned to red/orange to protect the recordings, and back to black/brown (depending on the colour of the cassette housing) to re-record. The switch covers/uncovers a hole along the tape edge which is detected by a sensor in the machine.

    The tape edge features six such holes along each side of the tape, detected by sensors on the cassette's underside. The left-hand cluster includes the write-protection hole. The right-hand cluster of three is used (by various permutations of open/closed status) to tell the machine the total tape running time. This was employed in second generation machines such as Grundig's Video 2x4 Super to provide a real-time tape counter: upon insertion of the tape the machine moves the tape forward and then backward by a small amount and monitors the comparative angular speed of the reels. This is looked up in a data table for the known total tape length and the hours and minutes used are then displayed. A similar technique was later used on Video8, MiniDV and MicroMV cassettes. Some later VHS machines also featured this ability although it did not work with VHS-C cassettes. NOTE: When Grundig began marketing VHS recorders, its VS2XX series machines employed a similar system, whereby barcoded stickers attached to the tape edge indicated the total tape length to the machine so that it could calculate the time used.

    A hole between the two spools enables a pin in the VCR to pass right through the cassette. This pin releases ratchets within the cassette that prevent the tape accidentally becoming slack in transit. The VCR's eject function includes a tape tensioning action prior to the cassette being ejected.


    Recorders in the format were manufactured by Philips and Grundig and marketed additionally by Pye, Bang and Olufsen and ITT in the UK, with Aristona, Erres, Radiola, Siera and Siemens in Europe.

  • Philips VR2020 basic recorder (also Pye 20VR20, Siera 20VR20, B&O Beocord 8800)
  • Philips VR2021 as VR2020 with minor cosmetic changes to bring into line with VR2022, and incorporating several of that machine’s upgraded componentry (also Pye 20VR21)
  • Philips VR2022 as VR2021 with added noiseless Picture Search at 7x forwards and 5x reverse (Pye 20VR22, B&O Beocord 8802)
  • Philips VR2023 redesigned fascia and remote control as standard
  • Philips VR2024 as VR2023 with added linear stereo (also as VR2099 in dark grey casing)
  • Philips VR2025 rebranded Grundig Video 2x4 Super (PAL/SECAM tuner - recorded SECAM as PAL)
  • Philips VR2026 (PAL/SECAM tuner - recorded SECAM as PAL)
  • Philips VR2220/VR2120 two-part (recorder/tuner-timer) portable machine (also Pye and Radiola 22VR20, Tesla VM2220)
  • Philips VR2324 basic series II compact machine (Pye 23VR24, Siera 23VR24)
  • Philips VR2334 as VR2324 with added remote control and trick play
  • Philips VR2330 as VR2324 with linear stereo
  • Philips VR2340 as VR2334 with added linear stereo
  • Philips VR2350 front-loading MatchLine model as VR2340
  • Philips VR2840 as VR2340 with added 16-hour XL recording mode
  • Philips VR2870 as VR2340 with hifi stereo sound (pcm coded) (never seen in real, only a demo machine?)
  • Philips VR2414 basic series III compact machine
  • Philips VR2424
  • Grundig Video 2x4 basic recorder 700 (also ITT 480, Siemens FM204)
  • Grundig Video 2x4 plus 770 – as 2x4 with added trick play
  • Grundig Video 2x4 Super 800 – series II machine with noiseless Picture Search at 7x forwards and 5x reverse (also Philips VR2025, Siemens FM404)
  • Grundig Video 2x4 850 – as 2x4 Super
  • Grundig Video 2x4 Stereo 880 – as 2x4 Super with added linear stereo
  • Grundig Video 2x4 1600 – basic series III machine, the only V2000 not to feature DTF
  • Grundig Video 2x4 2000 – series III machine
  • Grundig Video 2x4 2000a - as 2000 but with redesigned electronics and updated display (also Siemens FM324)
  • Grundig Video 2x4 2200 – series III machine with added linear stereo
  • Grundig Video 2x4/2x8 2080 – series III machine featuring 16-hour XL recording mode (also Siemens FM328,FM328-9 PAL/SECAM)
  • Grundig Video 2x4/2x8 2280 - as 2080 with added linear stereo (also Siemens FM429,FM429-9 PAL/SECAM)
  • Grundig Video 2x4/2x8 2280a - as 2280 but completely redesigned to align with the VS2XX VHS models
  • Intended developments

    Philips and Grundig intended Video 2000 to improve on the perceived failings of the VHS and Betamax formats whilst providing the potential for further developments. However, the format was withdrawn before many of these possibilities appeared on the market.

    The prototype Video Mini Cassette was a compact version of the VCC (analogous to VHS-C) that was playable in existing machines using a full-sized cassette adaptor. Published photos clearly show the nomenclature VMC120, suggesting that 60 minutes per side were possible, but Philips retired Video 2000 before the development was ready for market.

    Hifi sound was never marketed although rumours persisted shortly before the format's demise of a hifi machine which utilised the data track. This would have offered the format another advantage over VHS/Beta as the hifi track would be independent of the visuals, and so could be re-recorded or dubbed as became possible later with Video8.

    Rumours also circulated in the press of an auto-reverse machine shortly before the format was retired. Technically this would have been a major challenge to enable a single head drum to scan both 'sides' of the tape at the correct angle.

    Alongside the write-protect hole were two that were never used. One was slated to indicate the tape formulation as higher coercivity tapes were to be introduced for the 'Super 2000' hi-band version of the format. The flexibility of this system also allowed for metal tape to be introduced for the digital version 'Digital 2000', also in the early stages of development as the format was canceled. Internal documents suggested the cassette abbreviations VSC and VDC to be used, respectively, for the two developments.

    Video 2000 and the videotape format war

    Philips released the first Video 2000 VCR, the VR2020, in the UK in 1979. Philips models were re-badged as Pye, amongst others, and even re-skinned as Bang & Olufsen, whilst Grundig models were re-badged as ITT. Notably, whilst Siemens had re-badged Grundig VCR machines, for Video 2000 it adopted those from Philips.

    A key intention of the V2000 format, particularly those sporting the DTF feature, was tape compatibility. A tape from any machine should play perfectly on any other machine. Unfortunately, when the VR2020 reached the shops it was discovered that its audio head was 2.5mm out of position compared to that on Grundig's Video 2x4. This meant that the sound would be out of sync with the picture when played back on the other type of machine. Both manufacturers' production lines hastily moved the audio head 1.25mm to a common position, but compatibility issues remained for recordings made on the first generation of machines. Furthermore, the required close tolerances and fragility of the DTF system resulted in significant inter-machine compatibility issues which were never fully resolved.

    In 1986 Philips announced that it would discontinue manufacturing of Video 2000 recorders, focusing instead on VHS exclusively.

    Although Video 2000 was technologically superior to the competition in several ways, it could not compete with VHS and Betamax's key advantages:

  • VHS and Betamax already had established market share and considerable prerecorded video libraries.
  • Betamax camcorders arrived at market first.
  • VHS and Betamax enjoyed worldwide distribution.
  • References

    Video 2000 Wikipedia

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