High school AV recollections

A 1976 Bay Bluebook picture of the author videotaping a 1975 freshman football game from the BHS stadium press box. The camera is a Sanyo VC 500 monochrome unit feeding into a Sanyo VTC 7100 videocassette recording deck (not pictured).

As a Bay High student in the 1970s about the only claim of distinction I could muster was that of being an AV geek. That, and while I can neither confirm or deny it, the possibility I may have been one of relatively few kids at Bay High at the time who enjoyed occupying their study halls perusing the pages of “Hot Rod Magazine.”

Not surprisingly, then, reading the story in the June 7 issue of the Observer about the new Bay High video studio generated a flood of memories for me.

Much of the school’s earliest instructional video recording and playback equipment had been in use during my stint as a volunteer in Bay High’s AV department. While our gear 40-plus years ago was no doubt quite primitive in comparison with that described in the June 7 story, I still very much remember it.

When I commenced my AV endeavors the department possessed several reel-to-reel, manually threaded video decks. They were monochrome (aka black and white) units employing half-inch-wide video tape carried by open reels and, I believe, employing the EIAJ-1 video format commonly used for such units (thank you, Google). One unit, I recall being made by Sony, could both record and playback tape. We had at least one other deck, possibly two, with one being a Panasonic, capable of playback only.

Matched with a suitably equipped and connected television monitor, the recording-capable video deck could record programming (educational, of course) from it. We also had a monochrome video camera that could be connected to the deck, finding much use in recording sporting events for coaches to review.

Later, when we were issued a brand new Sony U-matic three-quarter-inch video cassette recording deck, it seemed as though we had made the big time. This device was considerably larger than the consumer-grade VCRs that would follow a number of years later and utilized a broadcast-grade video format that predated Sony’s Betamax. Best of all, even though we still had only a monochrome camera, the U-matic could record and playback in color!

The last new piece of video equipment I had the pleasure of operating before graduating from Bay High was a Sanyo VTC 7100 (thanks again, Google) video cassette deck that incorporated a proprietary video format, could be battery powered and, for its time, was very portable. It was matched with a Sanyo VC 500 camera that could be hand-held as well as tripod mounted. It was, unfortunately, monochrome as well but fun to use.

Of course, back then Bay High’s AV department still provided old-fashioned 16mm movie projectors and ubiquitous slide projectors to teachers on an as-needed basis. But, from that point on, there was obviously no turning back from the video era!

Dan Hirschfeld

I'm a longtime resident of the Bay Village and Westlake area (Bay 1965 to 1977, then Westlake since) who has always enjoyed living here while seeing lots of change over the years.

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Volume 8, Issue 13, Posted 9:29 AM, 07.06.2016