Ultra-rare Cartrivision TV is for sale on Ebay
At first glance, it might look like any old TV from the 1970s, its modest-sized screen encased in a solid wood console. But look further and you will see that this is actually one of the rarest and most special TVs out there.
In a time before video stores and the inevitable Netflix, if you wanted to watch a feature film at home that wasn’t playing on network TV, you usually had to deploy an old-fashioned movie projector. But if you lived in the early 1970s and liked cutting edge gadgets, you might get a TV console with a Mapping built-in player.
As Foone explains, Cartrivision was a short-lived analog format where videos were delivered on massive cartridges. It wasn’t the first proprietary home video technology (these date back to the 1960s), but it was the first to allow people to rent Hollywood feature films to watch at home. As there were no video clubs, rental was done by catalog and cartridges were sent by post.
But there was a catch: most Cartrivision videos could only be viewed once. This meant that viewers could not advance or rewind the video. The good news is that there were no rewind fees (they weren’t invented yet!), But the bad news is that improperly scheduled phone calls or bathroom breaks could impact the customer. viewing experience.
Once the viewed tapes were returned (again by mail), they were rewound with a special proprietary machine.
Sears sold the Cartrivision + TV units for around $ 1,600, which as YouTuber Quirks Archive points out, would be around $ 9,000 in modern currency. Although Cartrivision has offered a range of major studio films and even released the first adult film on home video (A Blue Film Story), sales were not good. In July 1973, the format ceased production, with remaining stocks rotting in the warehouses.
While the intended standalone players were never released, some Cartrivision players have survived after being ripped from their original TV consoles, and there is a small community of avid collectors and repackers.
According to the electronics website DEC Magic, “Most of the Cartrivision units that survive today are home-made boxes with the electronics mounted inside. It is more common to see Cartrivision as two loose pieces of exposed electronics, one part being the tape transport unit and the other being the aquarium signal processing unit.
That’s why, as Foone notes, an entire TV console with the Cartrivision still in it is an incredibly rare beast today.
Which brings us to the one that is currently auctioned On ebay. A typical example of the wood-boxed entertainment systems of the era, this original Teledyne Packard Bell cartridge television system is massive, weighing around 300 pounds. Foone suggests that it may be the only surviving specimen in the world.
“It was left in a property I bought” wrote eBay seller lveldre. “Sale of parts only. I don’t know if it works. I removed the back panel to give a view of the internal electronics. Looks like everything is original and still intact.
Even if it works, don’t expect the Cartrivision to actually play the old tapes. The format is very sensitive to humidity, and as Foone points out, there was actually an Emmy-winning documentary about how difficult it was to rip video from a vintage Cartrivision tape.
If you want to know more about this crazy and archaic death video format, here is the trailer of Lost and found, the documentary about the resurrection of a Cartrivision cassette from the 1973 NBA Championship.