The portable video camera changed everything. In 1967 Sony introduced its DV-2400 Portapack (the Video Rover) and video production was placed in the hands of ordinary people, almost. It was still expensive, but universities could get the technology and students could take it out and start shooting. This camera system great contributed to the growth of video as an expressive and personal art form. Of course, many still used studio technology as well. By 1973 the form was established and growing, enough so that WGBH in Boston created a show on the topic (see clips below). Now our cell phones create digital videos that can instantly span the globe, or be posted online. But it all started somewhere.
Maybe what is most fascinating about these kinds of technologies (and I include the Internet, mobile phones, etc.) is their democratic nature. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s there was a feeling that video, because it was so portable and instantaneous, could be at the vanguard of personal expression, the interchange of ideas, and forging new ways of seeing ourselves, and thus creating a better world. And it was, though a better world has proven to be elusive. In the 1990s those hopes shifted over towards the Internet, which has proved to be even more conducive to the spread of ideas. But our heritage includes a heavy (by today’s standards), black-and-white, reel-to-reel, portable video tape recorder and camera system invented in the 1960s by a Japanese corporation that would later give us the Walkman, Compact Disc, and DVD.