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History of the MiniDV

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By Katy Sommerfield

Most of us are old enough to remember VHS and Betamax tapes. These video recording and playback technologies were exciting and new in the ‘80s and ‘90s, changing the course of home entertainment forever. Before VHS, television was king of the entertainment game. Families would gather around the box whenever their favorite show or movie was on, and for the first time, millions of people were able to view media at home instead of at a theater. With the invention of videotaping, anyone could be a director by using a giant camcorder to film their family picnics and holiday parties. It was truly a media revolution.

However, in the mid-1990s, people were craving updates to videotaping technologies.

Camcorders were massive and difficult to lug around, and there was a real need for something smaller and easier to use. This desire for minimalism is what spawned the creation of the MiniDV.


DV tapes came in four sizes ranging from small to extra large, yet all the tapes were significantly more compact than their VHS counterpart. Despite the size difference, DV and VHS tapes were of equal quality, so if you chose to go with MiniDV instead of VHS, you didn’t have to sacrifice video quality for portability. While the VHS tape was larger and therefore could hold almost four hours of footage, the MiniDV tape could still hold over an hour and a half of footage, an impressive recording time for such a small device. These factors drew consumers in, and the MiniDV quickly became the hottest recording device on the market.


Unfortunately for the MiniDV, it was quickly overshadowed by the fancy DVD which was invented in the same year that the DV format was launched. MiniDV camcorders remained popular until tapeless camcorders took over, and once consumers moved onto digital formats, the short reign of the MiniDV was over. Today, digital cameras and smartphones are the most widely used forms of video recorders. With the portability and convenience of having a camera on your phone, many people feel they have no need for a physical camera or video recorder anymore. Who knows what technology will come out in the next few years to replace the smartphone camera?


If you still have MiniDV tapes at home, it’s time to get those babies digitized! With Kodak Digitizing, you can send in a number of tapes for digitization and we’ll handle the rest for you. Why stay in the past? Get your tapes, film, photos, and cassettes digitized so you can access them easily from your computer or smartphone.

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