Culture and Recreation

Radio and Television

What impact have VCRs and digital recorders had on television viewing?

Since VCRs (invented 1975) and the more recent digital recorders such as TiVo give viewers the ability to record television programs and watch them when they choose, a phenomenon known as “time-shifting” has emerged. As Americans watch previously recorded programming, they miss prime-time broadcasts. Commentators mused that Americans were losing a sense of community—gone were the days when office workers would stand around the water cooler to chat about last night’s episode of a popular program. Since these recording devices also gave viewers the ability to fast-forward through commercials (a practice dubbed “zapping”), they posed challenges to the advertising industry.


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