Jason and the Argos Gnomes (Part Thirteen): The Ferguson Videostar

‘Remote control on a wire…*’

If you had sufficient cash to burn in February 1983, you could have recorded television history in the making with this device. On another note, we have found the very thing for our blank video tape seen in our tenth entry.

The Ferguson Videostar 3V29

By 1983, the Video Cassette Recorder was the iPad of its era. Prices fell to more affordable levels, though they were still expensive. They were equivalent, price wise, to an annual rail season ticket (such as System One’s CountyCard or the Saver Annual before then).

The Ferguson Videostar 3V29 was a popular top loading model in the mid-1980s. It was a favourite among the video rental trade (given that Thorn EMI not only owned Ferguson but also a fair number of TV and video rental shops in the UK). Features include an ability to record up to four hours of programming. Plus, being able to make timed recordings up to nine days in advance.

This model was sold with an hour long video cassette. Owing to the price of cassettes at the time (equivalent to about £48.00 today), this was a real bonus. The remote control was an optional extra, priced separately.

Ferguson’s Videostar range was a highly successful one for Thorn EMI. Though rebadged JVC machines, they had been in circulation since 1976 (when VHS recorders first entered the market). The previous 3V16 was noted for its piano style keys.

As well as the joys of recording the soap operas, they became an alternative to the cinema. Video libraries would appear in the smallest and largest of towns. Public libraries and off-licences would follow suit. After the initial outlay, it was cheaper than going to the local cinema. Plus, in the pre-certification era, access to a greater library of films outside of the Hollywood studios. (Some of which questionable in taste).

  • Argos Catalogue edition: Autumn/Winter 1982;
  • Page and item numbers: page 238, item 8;
  • 1982 Prices: £419.00;
  • 2014 Prices: £1,403.15.

S.V., 13 December 2014.

* Peter Kay, 2002.

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