In 1956 Charles P. Ginsburg and Ray Dolby of Ampex Corporation, a U.S. electronics firm, developed the first practical videotape recorder. Their machine revolutionized television broadcasting; recorded shows virtually replaced live telecasts with a few exceptions, such as coverage of sports events. Almost all programs are videotaped during their original telecasts, and individual broadcasters then rerun the shows at times most suitable for their own viewers.
An increasing number of videotape recorders are used for recording television broadcasts received in private homes. Many such units can produce home movies if connected to an accessory video camera. Commercially produced video cassettes of popular motion pictures also can be played on these recorders.