End of the Blockbuster Era – A Reminder of My Age

Video CassetteI was recently reading an article about Blockbuster’s bankruptcy filing that was waxing poetic about the by-gone days of the video rental chain’s glory.  And as I considered the impending Blockbuster-less frontier (no biggie to me, I’ve been a Netflix-ista for years), it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I remember when membership to a video rental store COST money.  And worse:  you had be APPROVED – like a country club.  And I think there might even have been a credit check.  Am I really that old?

For those of you that are not that old, let me explain:  In the very early days of video rental, even before the Beta/VHS debate became big news (you know about that, at least, right?), the stores that rented videos were exclusive club-like establishments.  There was an annual membership fee.  If you didn’t return on time – or rewind – they could revoke your membership.  Believe me, we behaved!  That membership was sacred.

Speaking of rewinding … for those that were truly aficionados (I wasn’t) there was a separate little gadget that was purchased just for rewinding the videos.  This existed for two reasons:  1) your player was so expensive that, it was argued, using the rewind was jarring to the mechanism and would cause early mechanical failure, or 2) you didn’t want to wait even an extra 5 minutes for the rewind to finish before putting your next movie in the player.

The movie viewing landscape has changed at an extraordinary rate.  It’s quaint that we even still use the term “video rental” when it’s been all DVD for years and years.


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