#OnThisDay: Camcorder? Not.

Martin Luther King Day is celebrated today in the United States. It is one of our movable holidays, meaning it doesn’t always fall on January 20. It is celebrated on the third Monday of January.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. This holiday in Dr. King’s memory and honor is a day on which Americans are encouraged to make a difference, just as Dr. King demonstrated through his life and example that one person can indeed make a difference.

Countless blog posts will be written today about Martin Luther King Day. Not being an expert on Dr. King, I chose to shine a light today on something well off the beaten path. I came to today’s topic in an unusual way.


I read that it was on January 20, 1982 that five corporations agreed to work together to develop the camcorder. When I planned my blog’s editorial calendar for 2020, I thought I might be able to work something out about that for today’s blog post; however, when it came time to expound on that, I found conflicting information. Since my main interest was the era of 8mm home movies and not the camcorder, it really didn’t matter.

Home Movies

Thinking about the advent of the camcorder brought back some warm and special memories of the days before that piece of photographic equipment arrived on the scene. I’d already committed to write about home movies in conjunction with the camcorder topic, so I’m going with that today.

When I was a child in the 1950s, my father had a movie camera that used 8mm film. The film came in round tin containers. It wasn’t cheap to buy the film and get it developed, so Daddy was extremely frugal in taking movies. It wasn’t unusual for him to start a roll of movie film with the January birthdays of my sister and myself and finish the roll on Christmas Day the following December.

By the time the roll of film was developed and we gathered round at night with all the lights off to watch this new “home movie” on the large and heavy projector which showed the movie on a grainy  screen affixed to a tripod, it was like taking a step back in history because a year had passed since the opening scenes of the movie had been taken. 

Occasionally, something would go awry with the film or the projector. The film would stop moving through its various sprockets and within a couple of seconds the heat of the projector’s light would burn a hole in the film if Daddy didn’t get it turned off fast enough.

Photo by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

Daddy isn’t in any of our home movies because he took all the movies. It’s a wonder the rest of us weren’t permanently blinded by the rack of lights he bought in order to make movies inside the house. Like with the flashbulbs on a still camera, we’d see spots for a fminutes after the movie camera lights were turned off.

That was life in the 1950s and 1960s. Technology gradually progressed so that a rack of four or five blinding lights was no longer necessary to take home movies.

In this day and time, when we can take videos on the spur of the moment with our cell phones, it seems like ancient history to recall the excitement cause by the old home movies and the invention of the camcorder

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I finished listening to The Devil in the White City:  Murder, Magic and Madness and the Fair that Changed America, by Erik Larson. It’s about the World’s Fair:  Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893. I highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in the progression of inventions and the engineering aspect of how things work.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog post. You have many things vying for your attention and your time, so I appreciated the fact that you took time to read my blog today.

Let’s continue the conversation

Did you grow up with the blinding lights of home movies? Don’t tell me I’m the only one!


15 thoughts on “#OnThisDay: Camcorder? Not.

  1. Great post Janet. Since I returned to Europe I had forgotten about MLK day in the US and it was a nice reminder reading your post of today. I think he was a great man who died too soon…well, he was assassinated…and who knows what more he could have accomplished for his people. My greetings and all the best to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing that memory, Trish. I’d forgotten about those slide carousels, too. Daddy made slides on rare occasions. To look at them, we had to put them into a little hand-held slide viewer one at a time and pass that one slide around the room until everyone had looked at it. This is making me feel like I must be 200 years old! LOL! Great memories!


  3. Thank you, Francisco. I agree with all you said about MLK. He was taken too soon, and there’s no telling how much he could have accomplished if he’d been allowed to live out a normal span of life. I hope you’ve had a creative day today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you Janet, I sure did as there was little else one could do today here as we are in the midst of a very strong and slow moving storm in the Mediterranean…take good care and all the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you took advantage of the bad weather. We have a storm of a different sort on this side of the pond. Having been a political science major in college, I’m glued to the televised Trump impeachment trial. It’s not conducive to reading or writing, and I fear the verdict was decided before the US Senate even convened on Tuesday. Time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think you are right reference the trial…and well, finally tonight is supposed to be the last night of the storm, take good care and all the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a teacher in the 1970s, the ancient movie projector was a source of great stress as I wondered if the film would load and rewind correctly after each showing. With all the new technology today, I’ve suddenly become more skilled at using the photography and film mediums.


  8. My sister was a school media specialist in those days and was often called to classrooms to help with the 16mm projectors. She’s glad those days are over.


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