On Jan. 22, 1957, NBC’s weekday game show Truth or Consequences, with Barker presiding, became the first program to be prerecorded on videotape for subsequent airing in all time zones. That first Ampex machine had the bulk of an industrial kitchen range, cost upward of $45,000 (about $200,000 in 2016 dollars) and recorded only in monochrome.
If your station has rows and racks and piles of old videotapes, you have a storage expense that you can turn into an asset. The reasons to digitize archived news videotape are based on value, the score that businesses use in deciding to act. So where’s the potential value in digitizing the videotape library? There are at least eight great reasons, including providing valuable legacy content for both on air and online.
At a Library of Congress facility in Virginia, an effort is underway to convert old videotapes into digital files, ensuring the long-term survival of a host of 1950s-through-1970s TV shows, including the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Preserving these shows turns out to be a challenging and time-consuming task. But unless the videotapes are transformed, experts say, future generations will have a diminished appreciation of the era of JFK, flower power and Watergate.