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This fact may come as a shock to you, but we are big fans of ’90s nostalgia here at Digital Converters. Some might argue we favour this decade’s outdated technology a little too much.
But, do you know what? At least, I can confidently say that I know what it feels like to repeatedly slam my finger on the eject button in anger at a VHS tape staying in the player. Or that I have experienced how indestructible ’90s technology is compared to computers today after breaking a PC by dropping a VHS tape on it…
So, I have asked the team about their favourite memories of ’90s technology. Here is our list of top 10 ’90s nostalgia for outdated technology:
Laptops were a pain in school. The keyboard buttons were so easy to pick off, muddle up or even throw away. It’s no wonder that every ’90s kid knows how to type without looking at the keyboard – most of the time, the letters were not even there to look at anyway!
Ah! The thought of deciding which game saves to lose now makes me anxious. Do I keep Abe’s Odyssey or Rayman? The pain of finding out that your new game takes up three save slots was the worst. Guess I’m saying goodbye to every game I started and never finished.
The pinnacle of ’90s tech has got to be Fisher Price’s finesse of creating indestructible children’s toys. Just think of the power Fisher-Price would have if they collaborated with Apple?! Your child could kill a man with the sturdiness of a Fisher-Price iPhone…maybe it wouldn’t be such a great idea, actually.
Don’t you dare tape over my recording of 90210!
It was a weird period in our lives when we had to decide between keeping precious family memories or recording a programme on the telly. We have had many a customer send in their wedding tape to be digitised only to find their child recorded The Lion King over it.
Video rental stores were the ones! I swear any film you selected from a rental store will always be a better watch than finding a movie on a stream. There was something about indulging in the video case during the car journey and hyping yourself up for the film that made the experience so enjoyable. Although, rewinding the tape was a chew.
Girltech’s voice recognition rarely worked for me. But, worked perfectly for my brother?! He could say any old gibberish, and the diary would open. But, honestly, thank god for invisible pens; otherwise, my brother would have known all of my crushes.
Could phones do that? Like, was that an actual thing where you could set up a four-way conversation with all your friends? Either way, it really helped move a plot along in a ’90s rom-com.
Did you think you could open a picture on the internet? You fool! Get ready to spend the next hour playing all the pre-installed games on your computer until the webpage loads. Pinball and Solitaire were the better games to play, but there was something so intriguing about Minesweeper.
Everyone was jealous of the student who got to change the hymns on the overhead projector. You went to the assembly before everyone else and got to sit at the front of the hall. Sometimes, you even got to choose the hymns. Think of the control you had over the other students.
What is more businessman than a car phone? That was an exclusive device for those with fancy cars that came with a phone. They were clunky, ugly phones and the only kind of phone my Dad would ever use. So if you ever wanted to ring him, “Dad Car” was the first number to try.
Bring your ’90s technology into the 21st century with Digital Converters. We can digitise your old tapes, cine reels and film photographs for as little as £18.99.
It is time to get creative with those clunky, plastic movies lying around your house. There are a couple of options for you to get rid of your tapes: you can recycle VHS tapes or sell valuable videos, or you can convert VHS tapes into retro items.
Unfortunately, the first two options are a little more complicated than they should be. So, I’m here to get your creative juices flowing. I’ve researched the best and most feasible pieces you can create with your old VHS tapes. Just make sure you convert VHS tapes to digital before turning them into an artistic masterpiece.
A gorgeous vintage piece to display on your wall. The idea is simple: remove the paper cover from a plastic VHS case, place your photo in the sleeve and then use command strips to stick the case to the wall. Amazing! You can even store other photographs inside the case.
You can show off your favourite home movies again with these retro coasters! I hate that there is no reason to have DVD’s and tapes on your shelves anymore because streaming is so easy to do. How else do I tell people that I like Pulp Fiction?! Well, now I can stick my love for films on the coffee table with a stylish VHS coaster.
Alright, this idea is actually really cool, and the YouTube tutorial is easy to follow. If you have an extensive home movie collection, you can make multiple lamps and display them on your wall. Alternatively, these lamps sell for a decent amount of money on Etsy.
Time to get a little more creative by making a clock. There are a few different types of clocks that you can make with your VHS tape, depending on how fancy you want to be. The more straightforward idea uses a reel from inside the VHS; otherwise, you can show off your DIY skills with a light-up clock. (Alternatively, you could buy one of the clocks shown in the photo.)
Okay, in terms of actually putting your VHS tape to use again, using the reels inside your tape as a wool dispenser is by far the most innovative idea I have seen. Finally, you can stop your wool from tangling whilst knitting!
Here we go: so, you have emptied the contents of your VHS to make your wool dispenser, but now you are left with reels of magnetic tape. Annoying, right?
Well, you can use that tape as the yarn itself! And (if you want to be proper nifty) you can even use your new wool dispenser to dispense your new plastic wool.
Hold your bum cheeks with this one. So, you’ve made your wool dispenser; you’ve made your wool; and now, you can make a bag! Triple. Whammy.
(And, it looks pretty fashionable.)
Alternatively, you can make knit the strap and use the VHS tape as a clutch bag.
Alright, let’s take it back a notch. Making a VHS pencil case is an easy solution for any kid wanting to look cool at school. If you cannot buy the hinges, you could make things even more straightforward and use the VHS case.
I’m not sure if using a plastic tape case is beneficial for a plant. But, it is pretty simple to make: take out all the inners of your VHS tape (maybe save the magnetic tape for wool – but who knows what you can make with tape wool), fill it with soil and small, hardy plants.
I know I said you could feasibly make all these ideas, but the USB hub is a cheeky, little bad boy that is sure to impress every man in your office. All you need is a glue gun and a soldering iron (two household essentials, if you ask me).
If these ideas are a little too creative for you, check out our recycling article on how you can donate and upcycle your VHS (without the need for a soldering iron).
Remember those days quietly sitting in front of your television on a Saturday morning before your parents woke up? Time felt expansive, glorious and to yourself when watching ’90s cartoons. That is until your older sister demands to take the controller because she’s “the oldest”.
Those mornings heralded by the television became a moment of nostalgia for you. Back then, you would fiddle with the remote until the back had broken off and became sticky with tape. But that didn’t matter, you would still clutch onto that remote as you flicked through the channels to find your favourite show.
So, without ado, here are our favourite ’90s cartoons to watch on a Saturday morning:
Never did an insult hit so hard than being called Pinky. The duo first appeared on Animaniacs before getting their own spin-off show. Its adult humour and pop culture references herald this children’s show as one of the best in the nineties and loved by all the family.
Oh, how I longed to be Ashley Spinelli and yet, I was probably more like Gus. This show gave us an example of how any friendship group can have a mix in popularity. Recess glorified breaktimes and made me wish for a playground with the jungle gym they had. One lesson I will always take from this show is to never be like slimy Randall – no one likes a tattletale.
Another cartoon that was released later in the decade but still encapsulates that 90’s spirit. CatDog had a bonkers synopsis and is an excellent example of how cartoons can break the conventional. My mind still racks for answers as to how I accepted this show as a kid. The main character’s body made absolutely no sense.
Not just a show dedicated to nineties kids, Pingu ruled over two decades of children’s television. And, do you know what? I’d still watch Pingu today. Although the Pinguinese language was absolute non-sense, we always understood what was happening – and the humour transcended across the world.
Okay, who even knew the Scooby-Doo series we all loved was never actually released in the nineties? These timeless 40 episodes were constantly playing on the TV when growing up. I’m pretty sure I watched each episode at least ten times. Nevertheless, the shinier, new versions could never replicate the creepiness of haunted houses drawn in The Scooby-Doo Show’s 2D animation.
Hey Arnold! did not shy away from teaching us that every family have their problems. Although we may not have known it at the time, this ’90s cartoon taught us a lot about the difficulties of dealing with poverty, addiction and neglect. Arnold’s altruistic personality shows that we should be kind to everyone and try to help people for the better.
I know this show is only partly animated, but the detective work and perfected crayon drawings deserve a place on this list. I mean, how does that man draw so well on that little notepad – and where did he buy those fat crayons?
A legacy in any Nintendo fan’s childhood; this show brought to life our favourite games and made us all want to wear fingerless gloves. Let’s not forget the treasure of Pokemon The Movie 2000. By far, my Mum’s worst cinema experience that she will never let us forget. I still don’t know how she slept through that final heartwrenching scene.
Anyway, Pokemon‘s movie legacy lives on through bootlegged VHS tapes. We have often converted tapes to DVD that was a TV recording of Pokemon instead of precious memories.
An absolute BBC classic. No child brought up in the UK can genuinely say they didn’t watch Arthur. It was always on the primetime slots for children’s television. So it’s not at all surprising that episodes are still being made today, especially with that banging intro song written by Bob Marley’s son.
After putting Pinky and The Brain on this list, I could not forget to include Animaniacs. I cannot even comprehend how much influence Steven Spielberg has had on our generation. If it wasn’t for his infamous Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, or Saving Private Ryan, Speilberg also ruled over our favourite ’90’s cartoons. His studio was unstoppable with Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures and Pinky and The Brain.
I am pretty sure my love for film noir began here. Batman‘s dark colour palette was created by using a black background and drawing with lighter colours. Its mature cinematography and unique style resonated with many of us as children. It was cool to have a show that included mature themes and violence – even if parents disagreed.
Could you imagine having a whole secret laboratory hidden in your bedroom? That would be the dream. The brother-sister rivalry really rang true in this series as I remember annoying my brother just as much as Dee-Dee annoyed Dexter.
This show always feels like a fever dream when I think back on it. And, for some reason, the episode where the class enter a human body has always stuck with me. What sort of school trip was that?!
A few superheroes turn up in this list, but none as niche as Bananaman. I always remember this as my sister’s favourite show – she has always had a love for satire, and it is great to see that even kid’s shows could rip into the superhero genre.
I know this only had a month in the nineties – but that still counts, right? Courage is definitely the reason why I love horror films now. This eery show of a dog dealing with creepy monsters coming to his elderly owner’s house brought delightful comedy moments and scared us witless.
DC are back at it again with Spider-Man. No other ’90s cartoon has brought us as many memes like this one. I would argue that the animated series had a more significant cultural impact than the later films.
Quintessentially British, The Adventures of Tintin took us on otherworldly adventures. This cartoon was one of the few that my parents would happily sit in the room and watch. Tintin has always felt like a cultural icon, and it was fun to watch the comic strip come alive in this series.
This mention goes out to everyone who watched VHS tapes at their grandparents. I always watched The Animals of Farthing Wood when I stayed at my Grandma’s on the weekend. It’s a melancholic memory, to say the least, because the storyline of this show is so devastatingly tragic.
I’m going to say it; Dragon Ball Z was the inspiration for many young boys wanting frosted tips. Forget Justin Timberlake and his spaghetti hair; the idea of having your hair looking it was on fire was the sure-fire way to get the girl. This anime cartoon series was an immense introduction to Japan’s animation for children and led me onto watching shows like Cowboy Bebop.
Ah, Rugrats. This show made me feel so mature because I was older than the characters in the show. It felt like I could laugh along with the adults – even though I was probably no more competent than those babies getting into trouble. Rugrats ruled my life when growing up. I loved the films and repeatedly played their Playstation games when not watching TV. So when Rugrats and The Wild Thornberries came together to make the film Rugrats Go Wild!, my mind was blown. I know the movie was played way too many times on repeat, but I loved watching it.
Choose to get your tapes digitised with the Number One digitisation service in the UK. Digital Converters can convert your videos for as little as £18.99.
Imagine finding out that your tape collection could be worth thousands – a jackpot hiding for you in the attic. It would be amazing, right?
Flying around the internet are many rumours and myths about the money you could make from rare VHS tapes. For example, if you have done any research around selling VHS tapes online, you will have seen that Disney’s Black Diamond editions sell for thousands. It is a teasing headline that gives the impression selling your Disney tape collection could be easier than expected. However, Snopes recently debunked this myth, and there is a good reason why.
Family films, like Disney’s animation collection, were popular to buy on tape. They were great for children to watch again and again. The majority of families owned at least one Disney animation on VHS. Hence, the vast popularity of Disney films and other blockbusters has made it difficult to sell on tape, and the Black Diamond editions do not sell for the thousands of pounds claimed by Daily Mail and The Sun.
Thankfully, some tapes do make money, and I’ve made a couple of rules (well, guidelines) to determine whether you own them.
Without a doubt, the rarer the tape, the higher it will sell. As mentioned earlier, mainstream films do not sell for as much as you would like. The key to making money from tapes is selling films out of print (OOP).
OOP are films never released onto DVD. A quick check on the film’s Wikipedia page will give you information on its’ distribution to tell whether your tape is an OOP. One thing to note is that many OOP valuable VHS tapes tend to be B-movie horror or banned films.
Low budget horror films and banned (or ‘video nasty’) films go hand in hand. This overlap is because of the Video Recordings Act in 1984, which meant that every home movie had to be certified by the BBFC (British Board of Film Censors). Subsequently, many rare B-movie horror films broke the censorship guidelines due to explicit and violent scenes.
Now, these banned and OOP horror films sell for a fortune; for example, Don’t Open The Window has recently sold for £250 on eBay. Likewise, if you happen to own a film from Knockout or Trytel, they are said to be of high value by a VHS expert because of the production’s micro-budgets and small home movie distribution.
Time has served VHS tapes well. They are a beautiful time capsule back to the eighties and nineties— especially rare releases of home movies that contained original edits or mistakes in the tape case’s artwork.
First releases of films are often valuable to collectors because they contain scenes and mistakes that are not in later releases. Again, horror films typically sell for more money. The first edition of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre recently sold for $405 (£291) on eBay because it is pre-certified as the Video Recording Act came in after its release.
Similarly, Halloween sells for a few hundred pounds if you have the VHS tape released by Media Home Video. Especially if you happen to have the 1978 release of Halloween with the misspelling of Media (Meda), you are really in the money. This incredibly rare and sought after tape sold for over $1300 (£937) in 2013! Sadly, last month this same version only made $350 (£250).
So, there is another way to tease people into buying your tapes as a collectable item. One way to do this is to pay IGS (Investment Grade Service) to grade your videos. They will assess the quality of your VHS and place it in a sealed display box.
By searching through eBay’s sold page for IGS-sealed VHS tapes, you will see tonnes of videos selling for up to thousands of pounds. For example, Empire Strikes Back sold for £1440.66 because it is in mint condition and sealed by IGS.
However, there is a word of warning for using this website as it has been speculated that the website is not legit. For instance, Reddit’s user @convergecult claims that IGS has been bidding on their goods on eBay to raise the value of these graded tapes. So, please take the prices of some IGS-sealed videotapes with a pinch of salt.
Okay, the last rule for selling your tapes is intangible and, to be frank, based on luck. Nostalgia can make people silly with money, especially when a video reminds someone of their childhood. If you own an obscure children’s film or television show that is not shown on TV anymore, you have a good chance of making a bit of pocket money.
By targeting the right audience and putting a reasonable price on the tape, you can profit from selling (even though it won’t be in the thousands).
Similarly, live music concerts can make a pretty penny because of fan’s nostalgia for concerts a long time ago – or just not having the opportunity to see the artist at the time. You can sell legit recordings of a show or even your home recording for money.
Nineties artists are always a popular choice for people to buy, and funnily enough, this is the only genre of valuable VHS tapes where owning a well-known title is good.
However, you decide to market and sell your tapes, ensure you do your research around the value of the tapes. There is plenty of online information, and even having a quick check on what has sold on eBay will help you price your tapes correctly. The general rule for selling is the more niche, the better.
Before you choose to sell any of your valuable VHS tapes, make sure you have a digital backup. Convert your old videotapes to DVD, USB or cloud with Digital Converters – the number one video digitisation service in the UK.
Remember the eighties? Those fond memories of driving through neon pink and blue-hued cityscapes saturated by blinking arcades and illuminated shopping malls. Your car is buzzing with electronic synthwave beats playing from your cassette as you move towards the sunset through empty streets.
It sounds familiar, right?
Probably not. But this is what synthwave music would have you remember.
Synthwave is a genre of music that plays with our nostalgia. The genre began in the late noughties and drew its inspiration from films, songs and arcade games from the eighties. Although the music is popular, it is the aesthetic retro look that really drew fans in.
Our journey in synthwave begins with French house musicians from the late noughties. Although no one had heard of the term ‘synthwave’ until a few years later, many French house musicians began creating music inspired by science fiction and horror films from the eighties. For example, Justice, a French electronic duo, sampled the main theme song from Dario Argento’s popular horror film Tenebrae (1982) in ‘Phantom‘ and ‘Phantom II‘.
Similarly, M83, Daft Punk and Kavinsky inspired the genre because of their instrumental music created with synthesisers. Kavinsky’s single ‘Nightcall’ became synonymous with synthwave because of its inclusion in the film Drive (2011). The opening credits blares the electronic synth of ‘Nightcall’ as the viewer watches a skyline illuminated by city lights and Ryan Gosling’s character drive through the quiet streets.
Driving is a consistent theme when listening to synthwave music. Drive brought the genre into mainstream media and drew attention to artists like Kavinsky. However, the music genre originated from OutRun, an 8-bit driving arcade game released in 1986.
You can listen to the game’s soundtrack on YouTube to understand how heavily the music influenced the genre and other artists.
In fact, Out Run‘s soundtrack inspired Kavinsky’s debut album (rightly named) ‘OutRun’, released in 2013. The television show Miami Vice and Dario Argento’s horror films were also influences of the conceptual album. The album pays homage to 1986 because it conceptualises a man crashing his car in 1986 and re-awakening as a zombie in 2006.
Okay, the perfect environment to listen to synthwave music is in the car. But, being in the car is only one part of the equation. Add driving a vehicle with Miami, and you have the perfect setting for listening to synthwave.
Miami Vice is one of the influences for the aesthetic setting of Miami. But, the primary influence is Playstation’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a driving game released in 2002. Funnily enough, the game was based in 1986.
OutRun and GTA: Vice City intertwine music within their gameplay. Both the games offer unique soundtracks built into a car radio simulation. The player could switch between tracks like they are switching between radio stations whilst driving.
The simulated radio station playing modern synth music mixed with driving in a gaming environment began the foundations for the genre’s aesthetic. Gamers feel connected, and even nostalgic, for these digital worlds built on gridlines and a glitched perception of freedom where a new world expands and simultaneously shrinks as you drive through it.
If a film could ideally incorporate the mix between arcade games, driving and synthwave, it would be Tron: Legacy (2011). Daft Punk’s electro soundtrack completes the scenes of digitised motorbikes driving through a cyber, neon and grid-lined world.
Much of synthwave’s attraction to the eighties is due to the decade being a time of new technological possibilities. As a result, many pictures associated with the genre are gaming arcades with glowing screens, colourful plastic cassettes and crackling retro films playing from a VHS tape.
If you have seen Stranger Things, then you can picture the stylised world of the eighties that synthwave tried to paint. Many of the show’s scenes include arcade games, pink and blue neon colours, and squeaky clean empty shopping malls with grid lined floors. Even the theme song of Stranger Things has electronic disco music associated with synthwave.
The consistent theme of cars, shopping and gaming, satirises the capitalist dream projected on ’80s America. The nostalgic dreamscape painted over YouTube videos, and album artwork of synthwave songs shows how idealised the eighties technology, capitalist and pop cultures was.
Did you love to listen to synth music in the eighties? Have your music collection digitised with a cassette to CD service like Digital Converters, and listen to all your favourite artists again.
Everyone can recall their favourite film to watch on tape. That square-cropped version you remember rewinding just as much as playing forward. There was an easiness to watching VHS tapes: the tape always remembered where you stopped; you could skip parts to your heart’s content; and no need to find a remote to select play on the menu. You may have even mastered the skill of skipping all the adverts when fast-forwarding the beginning.
We’ve put together a top ten list of classic films we all loved to watch on VHS. Find out whether your favourite movie made the cut:
Have you really seen Star Wars if you didn’t watch (one of) the original versions on VHS?
George Lucas paved the way for capitalising on films through home videos. His production company’s insistence on revamping Star Wars by issuing new releases with improved audio, screen ratios and even edits of the movies delighted (and annoyed) fans to no end.
Everyone had their version of Star Wars on tape that they believed to be the best way to watch the film. Each new release came with unique, stunning artwork covering the boxes and sometimes collectable items if you invested in the trilogy. Disney+’s version will never compare to the original Star Wars releases on tape.
The Wizard of Oz is infamous for bringing technicolour to the screen. Although it was not the first video to be watched on home televisions in colour, it was still a film to marvel at when colour TV’s became popular in England through the 1980s.
Not only was it a fun history lesson to teach children about the wonders of colour television. But, the poor special effects of monkeys tied to string flying through the sky and painted backdrops made it perfect for watching on a standard definition tape. Who would want to see that in Ultra High Definition?
One of the later releases on this list, Jurassic Park earnt a place in everyone’s households for its high-quality production and epic storyline. In addition, the combination of science fiction with horror gave the film an edge that other family-friendly films at the time didn’t have. In fact, the movie ranked as the 5th most popular film ever bought on tape.
Jurassic Park answered everyone’s question about what would happen if dinosaurs were to walk on Earth again.
That’s the answer. The special effects and realistic T-Rex saturated everyone’s need to visualise what it would look like to walk next to dinosaurs—a fantastic film for every dinosaur lover out there and one to watch again.
It goes without saying that E.T. would be on this list alongside Jurassic Park. Spielberg’s classics ruled the eighties and nineties because of their family-centric storylines and revolutionary special effects. Likewise, E.T. touched many of our hearts as the film focused on a dysfunctional family home where the siblings learn to work together to ensure that the alien makes it home safely.
A pop-culture phenomenon, E.T. had a special edition VHS release in 2002 with higher quality effects and never seen before footage to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Did anyone actually enjoy watching Sound of Music?
It didn’t matter. The musical tracks composed by Robert Wise and sung by Julie Andrews meant it was ideal for any parent wanting to catch a kip whilst entertaining the kids. The Sound of Music was a comfort film through and through. Although not as popular today, it will always be in our hearts as the tape to watch on a rainy day.
I’m going to be honest with you if this list matched the top 10 favourite films watched on VHS, then it would have been a top 10 of Disney animated films. Of course, there were many popular choices for us to choose from, such as The Lion King. But, The Little Mermaid is one many of us fondly remember only watching on tape.
Let’s not forget the controversial artwork on the original VHS release that banned the tape in shops and caused a new cover released in 1990. The original artwork looked very similar to the one kept in many of our houses. But, if you looked closely at the golden castle in the background, you would see that one of the spires resembled a not-so child-friendly male body part. This rare but naughty version of The Little Mermaid now sells for up to £200 on eBay.
A film smeared in our minds for its ghostly horror. Bill Murray earnt this tape’s place on our shelves as we fell for his sardonic Dr Peter Venkman. Ghostbusters‘ infamous theme tune and logo have left a lasting memory in everyone’s minds. But, sadly, we will only remember the VHS edition for its poor aspect ratio that cropped Ernie Hudson out of so many scenes.
Loved by all, Grease is still watched on repeat today. The film encompasses the rollercoaster of young love with some of the best musical hits ever written. And, let’s not forget the eye candy of John Travolta.
Grease stood the test of time when released for home viewing. The film’s 20th Anniversary Edition release made an extra $28 million from cinema and home movie viewings in 1998. To make you feel really old, Grease has recently been released on Blur-ray in 4K Ultra HD for its 40th Anniversary in 2018. Please take me back to the days of tapes!
Okay. I never said that this list was for the best films ever released on VHS. Jumanji may never be a cult classic – but people did love to watch it on tape.
Ever thought you could hear the drumbeats too?
Finding a dusty covered tape of Jumanji on your brother’s shelf added a whole new layer of meaning after watching this film. The fear of participating in this game lingered over any child watching it at too young of an age. The fear of participating in the game was not helped by physically pushing this tape into the VCR player, making any tape viewer feel involved with the game.
“Does anyone know where The Snowman tape is?”
It always felt like a ceremonious occasion when my Mum would finally find The Snowman tape behind the Christmas decorations. The film’s short duration always made it the perfect movie to watch between decorating the Christmas tree. Even the physicality of owning the tape always made the whole occasion feel unique and personal to my family. Unfortunately, this participation in a family tradition of rewatching the one Christmas film you owned will never have the same feeling thanks to the convenience of streaming services.
Is your favourite VHS tape still sitting on your shelf? Bring it back to life by using a film digitisation service like Digital Converters.
Welcome to the Eighties! The transition from legacy media to digital technology is beginning, and within this strange decade of mixed medium comes the rise and fall of the audio cassette magazine.
Audio cassette magazines (or ‘tapezines’) were an experimental journalist platform used to promote a music niche generally not promoted by mainstream platforms. They combined songs, news and interviews with artists and sounded much like podcasts released today. The trend began around 1981 across America, Australia, and the UK. However, the cassettes never lasted longer than a couple of years, with only one audio magazine in Manhattan outlasting the market by ten years.
Each of the magazines focused on a particular music genre or geographical location producing music.
The founding cassette magazine, Fast Forward, focused on post-punk music based on the creators’ passion and knowledge of the Punk genre beginning in the ’70s. The tapezine was available worldwide for music lovers to learn about Australia’s post-punk music. The magazine gained attraction in America, particularly by Bruce Pavitt, the founder of Sub-Pop. Inspired by Fast Forward, Pavitt created cassette compilations to accompany his magazine, promoting undiscovered talent from Pacific Northwest.
On the other side of America, a new challenge against mainstream radio began. Tell Us cassette magazine was an art project documenting New York’s downtown music. The cassette spliced together spoken word, music, and performance pieces with a visual accompaniment. It favoured avant-garde and no wave music, experimenting with different genres of sound. Tell Us’ fluidity with sound and art gave the magazine a longer lease of life, lasting for ten years before the project ended in 1993.
Unlike America and Australia’s underground music promotion, UK’s SFX Cassette Magazine was inspired by MTV’s promotion of New Wave music. An experiment in music journalism created by Hugh Salmon and Max Bell, SFX was advertised as the first audio cassette magazine ever published. However, Fast Forward had defeated SFX to the punch a year earlier.
The benefit of producing cassette magazines was the freedom to experiment with editing spoken word with music. The manual splicing and combining of interviews with sound gave a new found freedom in promoting music compared to printed press.
Bruce Milne from Fast Forward explained that he wanted to create a medium for promoting new music not restricted by the number of adjectives in the English language.
“I’d spent a number of years writing about music and you definitely get to the point when you’re writing about music that this is ridiculous, I’m trying to describe something, and I’ve sort of run out of adjectives.” – Bruce Milne, One of the two founders of Fast Forward
Likewise, radio stations had restricting guidelines on what music was appropriate to play. This meant DJ’s had to discard other lesser-known musicians who did not fit the genre. The cassette magazine combines the two forms with the freedom to play songs not advertised in mainstream media.
Plus, cassette tapes were cheap to buy!
Fast Forward managed to buy their cassettes cheaply by recycling erased pre-recorded tapes and repackaging them. Similarly, Sub Pop’s cassette compilations were said to be worth making as long as they sold 200 copies. After completing three unique cassette compilation magazines, Sub Pop decided to use cassettes to supplement their printed magazine.
However, copyright laws and the creators’ limited access to music restricted tapezines production. SFX had to fight for their right to play 20 to 30 seconds of a song by persuading the Performing Rights Society that previewing music is an excellent way to sell music.
Likewise, Bruce Milne and Andrew Maine from Fast Forward used their radio show to find and access music to play on their cassette magazine. These mainly consisted of cassette or reel to reel demos sent in by independent musicians.
Both magazines struggled to avoid record labels paranoia around home taping destroying music. The creators of Fast Forward learnt a lot about copyright infringement and avoid playing music from large record labels. Meanwhile, before SFX even hit the shops, it was under criticism for using re-useable tapes because it might encourage home taping of music. Hugh Salmon disputed the criticism insisting that listeners would view the tape as a collectable.
Salmon was right to dispute the criticism. The success of SFX led to one of the most famous interviews with Paul McCartney that now sells for profit on eBay. The recorded conversation was the first time McCartney openly talked about the murder of John Lennon. However, SFX’s reign quickly ended after only 19 issues due to the high production costs. Most likely due to their focus on mainstream New Wave music.
Sadly, the novelty of tapezine quickly wore off as mainstream printed magazines began using cassettes to promote new music. NME created a collection of cassette compilation albums to accompany their magazine. Their most famous compilation album released in 1986 (simply named C68) had huge success. But, it marked the beginning of the end to mixtape culture and sharing independent music via cassette tapes.
At the same time, publishing music magazines on cassettes began to feel limited compared to the popularity of MTV. Cassette tapes poor audio quality caused interviews and music to be challenging to listen to. It had nothing on the visual captivation and audio clarity offered by music channels on TV.
Although MTV and copyright laws brought the downfall of the tapezine, these magazines have left a mark in music journalism. Today, Tape magazines are collectable items holding a slice of authentic music history from the ’80s.
Okay, let’s face it. Film photography is expensive and downright time-consuming. Even disposable cameras are more of a burden than a present these days. Many stores have stopped developing film, never mind the time and effort it takes to digitise and share the photos with friends and family.
Thankfully, app developers have also clocked on to the faff and inconvenience film cameras are for the consumer. So, with spring cleaning and fresh beginnings in the air, I have reviewed the most popular vintage photography apps to help you pick the right one.
These apps are free to use but may include in-app purchases (much to my dismay).
HUJI has been my go-to app for the last few years. It imitates disposable film photography from 1998 by changing your phone screen into the back of a disposable camera and date stamping your photos with 1998.
I love HUJI’s simplicity and filters. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have drunkenly recommended this app to one too many strangers on a night out. It can’t be helped – the filter detracts from all that HD ugliness your normal phone camera captures (and make your legs look great!).
The only downside is the time it takes to process a photograph. I would not recommend giving this app to your mum because the seconds it takes to process can be confusing and cause blurry photographs.
This app is the embodiment of someone taking a project brief a little too literally. GUDAK has caused controversy, and there is a good reason for it. The app is designed to completely imitate a disposable camera, with the time taken to develop the photographs included in its design.
Basically, this app is designed to bring back the element of surprise you get when waiting for your film to be developed. You must wait for three days until you can view your photographs as the app pretends to develop your film. Not only that, but you can only take 24 photographs per roll and must wait an hour before starting a new film roll.
However, it misses the beat.
The developing time means you cannot correct your photographs, forgetting the purpose of taking photographs on your phone. Also, the viewfinder is tiny and cannot be expanded! An infuriating function since it does not work as an actual viewfinder.
Perhaps this app’s novelty is better when taking photos at a party rather than photos of my house in lockdown.
This app is different to the others I am reviewing because you cannot point and shoot on Android phones.
CALLA Cam is good for editing your existing photographs by playing around with film camera filters. The filters are easy to switch and play around with on your phone. Although, I did have to create a folder in my phone’s gallery to save my photos which were quite confusing.
The main problem with this app is the in-app purchases. It is very apparent how limited you are with the free app. They have included an advertising feature to give you a limited range of paid filters for free. However, you must watch 33 adverts before you can download them. That’s a TV show’s worth of adverts to watch for a film effect!
In terms of novelty, this app blows the others out of the water! The app is designed to imitate a collection of film cameras. NOMO changes your phone’s interface to replicate the film camera you have selected and includes authentic sound effects to really take you back in time.
At first, I was disparaged by the subscription fee service to access all the cameras available. However, after scrolling through the menu, there are a few cameras for you to use for free.
NOMO takes other film photography apps’ ideas but executes them better by incorporating the phone’s functionality. For instance, their Instax-Mini camera imitates the processing time of polaroid film but gives you the option to speed up the process by shaking your phone (like a polaroid picture).
It is an enjoyable and creative app that I am definitely keeping on my phone!
This app is like NOMO but offers a selection of film rather than cameras.
The interface of this app is what really makes it stand out compared to the other apps. Your phone screen replicates an old school camera (including the scratches). The viewing screen is big and easy to view on your phone screen and gives you the option to zoom in and out!
Unfortunately, the processing time when taking photographs is quite slow and tends to blur many photographs.
All in all, film photography apps are great for saving money and time. However, they never quite touch upon the authenticity of using a film camera.
If you have printed photographs that you would like to preserve and share with friends, get them digitised with Digital Converters.
The interest in neon sounds found in retro pop has had a resurgence much like how Stranger Things reminded us of freewheeling through the neighbourhood on an 80’s summer evening.
Music recording has changed a lot over the past century, and many elements that became synonymous with these eras of time have been lost to advances in recording methods. As a result, there is a huge amount of cutting-edge tech dedicated to replicating these sounds without the need to acquire any old gear.
We’ve previously touched on some modern artists known for their vintage sound, but what makes music sound vintage?
To answer this question, we have to touch on how music is recorded in the digital age.
Before digital recording became the standard in the music industry, most music of the 1950s to 1990s were produced using multi-track cassette recorders.
These came in the form of large desks with gauges and sliders galore, as well as a slot for a tape to record sound onto. A microphone plugged into the tape recorder would record each track onto a different area of the tape. Producers combined the recordings together to create the finished product.
As audio technology progressed through the Digital Revolution, studios began using increasingly high-tech methods to capture musicians’ vibrations.
This culminated in cassette recorders phasing out favouring computers with a program known as a “Digital Audio Workstation” (or DAW for short). The process of capturing sound remains similar but with huge improvements in cost and versatility.
Sounds could now be edited in ways which were previously impossible due to the limitations of cassette recorders. DAWs use VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins – these are digital effects that distort your sounds any way you like. This could be adding echoes, delays, reverb or synth.
Now with context established, let’s go through some ways in which studios use plugins to replicate cassette recorders.
One of the more notable subtleties saved by the magic of plugins is the sound of tape delay. Adding a delay to a sound makes it echo and repeat itself.
Tape delay has a different sound to the digital delay due to the wear on the tape, causing slight pitch changes. Before the tape delay, musicians would have to record in a naturally-echoing area to capture any delay sound. This was not cost-effective, hence tape delays being developed.
A physical tape delay unit would essentially record a sound onto a tape (for example, the sound of a guitar coming through an amplifier) and play it back alongside the live sound.
“EchoBoy” is an industry-standard plugin that recreates the sound of a tape delay. It features ready-made presets which replicate the sound of many of the most famous tape delay units of the 1950s to 1980s.
Wow is a subtle pitch variation heard in music played on cassette. Tiny changes in the recording speed causes the pitch to change. This results in the classic, warbling sound of a vintage cassette.
Flutter is a similar occurrence, but at a higher frequency. The perceived pitch of the sound changes faster and can cauae vocals to sound more shrill. A worn capstan most often causes flutter in the tape machine itself.
Tech-drenched studios can recreate this sound with a plugin called “Wow Control”.
This plugin lets you adjust the amount of flutter and the speed of the “tape”. There’s even a randomisation button if you need some inspiration!
What? You thought we’d do the entire article without mentioning the glorious vinyl?
Arguably the most iconic “retro” sound is the subtle crackling of a dusty LP. Static buildup or dust and dirt in the vinyl’s grooves causes the crackling sound heard on a vinyl record.
Of course, there are many plugins striving to give producers the option to add this iconic crackle to their tracks in the digital age.
However, there is only one plugin that does this and much more – iZotope Vinyl.
iZotope vinyl is a vintage sound titan. This plugin produces vinyls’ crackle sounds, the audio cutout caused by big scratches in a record, and the pitch wobble of a record warped out of shape.
Prefer your vinyl artefacts a different flavour?
iZotope Vinyl can even switch its entire sound to resemble LPs from the 1930s, ‘50s, ‘60s, 70s, 80s and 2000s!
With complex yet affordable technology, even a beginning bedroom-producer can create vintage music straight with digital plugins.
Of course, nothing beats the real thing, so why not use the UK’s number 1 media digitisation service to get your classic audio tapes/reels converted to digital!
The mechanical clicking of a slide projector is something familiar to even the most sheltered iPhone photographers. Of course, not many of us have frequent interactions with a slide projector, but the shh-kunk sound remains unmistakable. While the projector was a great source of entertainment, the fundamental mechanics of it remain a mystery.
The innovation of slide photography begins with how it prints the picture onto the film. Unlike negative film, which inverts the picture’s colours when printing onto the film, the see-through film used for slide production keeps the colours the same.
The film for slides was a much cheaper option for amateur photographers because they did not have to fork out for their film prints to be processed. Instead, the photographer had to mount their film into a glass frame. The slide could then be inserted into a projector to view the photo.
The main downside to slide photography is viewing the photo. You can hold the film up to the light to see what has been photographed. But, the photo’s size is much too small to see the photo’s beauty – or show it to larger groups. So, many observed the image through a projector.
Once you insert a slide into a projector, a light shines through the film and into a lens. The lens works similarly to how our eyes do: it corrects the photograph by flipping and focusing the image for you. The photo is also enlarged by the lens and then projected onto a surface of your choice.
Funnily enough, the invention of projectors came before photography.
You may have stumbled upon this article while reading about slide photography. In that case, you may already be aware of the Magic Lantern slide projector. But for those who are not experts in projection technology, I will give you a quick recap:
Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist, developed the magic lantern in the 15th Century. Huygens was a little camera shy and regretted inventing the technology as soon as he realised its popularity. He even planned to sabotage his invention upon finding out his father had intended to present the lantern to the King of France, Louis XIV. Huygens reportedly urged his brother to make sure no one used the Magic Lantern.
Unfortunately for him, schools and theatrical productions used the magic lantern for centuries to come. It also remains a product of interest today – although mainly in the minds of vintage enthusiasts and collectors.
The Magic Lantern’s main mechanics remains the same in projectors. The components needed are the same: a light source, a lens, and the see-through slide image. The only difference between the original lantern and the projectors today is the content of the slide itself because the lantern used paintings and drawings instead of photographs.
Two hundred years later, photography entered the world, and the magic lantern’s mechanics came back into the limelight.
Of course, most people prefer digital photography nowadays. However, nothing beats the sensory feeling of loading a slide into a clunky, vintage projector, clicking the switch and hopping in and out of worlds frozen in time. If you, or your family, have boxes of tiny, old pictures stored in the attic, these will likely be slides!
Unfortunately, the labs which previously churned out thousands of processed slides are now slowly disappearing. To save your slide photos from disappearing, get them digitised today with the UK’s #1 photo digitisation service! Digital Converters will ensure the preservation of your photographs for years to come.