How did people copy something from a VHS/cassette tape since they’re physical..?


For example in the past, how would movies or TV shows get copied on to millions of VHS tapes for people to watch at home? Do they all get copied from the very Original tape and how did they make sure that the original wasn’t damaged or something…?

In: Technology

All you have to do to copy over a VHS or cassette is put a bit of sellotape over the top bit. I believe you had to run two VHS at the same time, one playing and one recording. Don’t have the real answer though, sorry!

All digital files are copied from an original. All analog files are copied from an original. The original file will usually have a few backup copies made for redundancy in case it is damaged, but it will also be handled with care. Even in the digital age, you will occasionally hear that a company has lost a shitload of money because they have accidentally lost some important data.

You got it right, there is a MASTER copy out there somewhere and they would set it up in machines that would copy the master to thousands of other tapes at the same time. Technically they would use the Master-master to create Master-copies and then make the mass copies from the Master-copy, all to protect the original Master-Master.

They protected the heck out of that master because if they lost it, there could be problems. In a few famous cases the masters of various albums, TV shows, movies, have been lost or destroyed and those are simply.. gone. An entire season of Dr. Who from back in the day is lost because the studio recorded over the master with a soccer match I believe, although I think they’ve found a few random bits.

Interesting fact, in some cases the master is a higher quality than duplicates they produced at the time. For example old movies filmed with actual film. When they make 4k HD versions of these films now they can go back to the original master and get the increased definition straight from the source.

If you’re asking how it’s done, they simply had a machine that would code the magnetic reel with the proper data. This could be done on large scale or small scale. They had smaller at home versions of this that would allow you to take data from one vhs and copy it onto another. Similarly the record button on your vhs will code the film with new data but not before it the tape passes an erase head which is a drum that passes a high level, high frequency AC signal which will wipe the portion of tape that passes over it.

There is a “master copy” of everything. There’s an original.

Copies are made, and every copy is just a duplicate of the original. There are often a bunch of 1st copy ones saved in case something happens to the “master”.

You could, once upon a time, just connect two VHS machines together and just play from one and record onto another. This wasn’t perfect and the copy wouldn’t be as good. It’d be barely noticeable. But you wouldn’t have the types of quality machinery than they do in factories where copies are made en masse.

These days things are all digital so you just burn another one onto a disc.

Records are actually all analogue still, so records are copied – from record to record. Decent records (vinyl discs) shouldn’t ever be burned from a digital file.

There were special machines used for duplicating VHS tapes.
They used thermal magnetic duplication and could copy a tape at up to 900x faster than real time.

You need a machine like this one here, plus a few others:

First you have one machine that you feel the video/audio signal into and it creates the master.

You load the master into the 2nd machine, and it spits out recorded video tape at high speed.

A 3rd machine takes the newly recorded tape and loads it into the video cassettes.

20 years ago, expect to pay about $500,000 for a complete setup.

You may find [this]( useful. It’s for audio tapes but it’s similar for VHS.

TL;DR: They’re recorded to multiple tapes simultaneously onto HUGE reels at faster than normal speed and then chopped up.