Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

Analog Era Gadgets Unearthed! Learn How to Utter VHSpeak and Program Your Playback Machine with Ease Through the Power of Voice Operated Recording and the VCR VOICE!

From the depths of the deepest, dingiest Goodwills and dusty second-hand shops, yet another VHS-centric gadget has been uncovered! It’s the VCR VOICE from the Voice Powered Technology Company! This obscure rewind-inclined creation was yanked from oblivion by none other than my radical Videovore homie Matt Ridgeway! He was groovy enough to send me some images of this bad boy (which you’ll see below), and thanks to the world weird web, we’re able to view the full paid advertisement video and get down with the mind-blowing magnetic magic programmer that will revolutionize your rewind times, man! Well, it was supposed to, anyway!


A look at the full deal for VCR Voice with images of the actual product supplied by Matt Ridgeway from his personal collection! YOU RULE, MATT!

Now throughout the seemingly ubiquitous ownership and usage of VCRs in homes across the analog landscape in the 80s and 90s, there was one constant source of agitation and frustration with these home video playback machines: nobody seemed to be able to program them without losing their VHShit. The dreaded blinking 12:00 and the absence of the inherent time shifting aspect mocked the owner and left them with a VCR only available to play back slabs of entertainment and record on the spot. But the VCR Voice was out to erase all that aggravation and put the full power back into your machine with ease. As VV’s tag goes, “If you can talk, you can program your VCR.”


A sleek and sexy pan and scan over the VCR Voice itself. VHSexy, indeed, mang.

Here’s basically how it worked: The gadget responds to your voice for all of the essential VCR functions e.g. Play, Pause, Rewind and Fast Forward. You just press a button, speak, and it obeys your analog command. In order to program a recording, all you had to do was press a button, say the date, channel and time, and you're all set. Easy, right? Sounds it. But wait… what about those pesky commercials afterward? No problemo, Tapeheads. All you gotta do is call out the command “ZAP IT!” and the tape will FF through 60 seconds of analog tape automatically while you watch. Isn’t technology insane?! But that’s not all it can do. The VCR Voice can also recognize up to FOUR different voices, and play on two VCR playback systems. All of this, including your own personalized section within the remote that digitally displays your name, times and settings you’ve created. It even lets you know if you’re too much of a Videovore and accidentally schedule two recordings at the same time AND it reminds you to load a tape into your machine when a scheduled recording is coming up. Damn, man… now that IS mad nifty. Dig it.


There it is! Here's the VCR Voice in all its glory. Lookin' GOOD.

Of course, as with any newfangled gadget on the market, there were a few problems. In order for the VCR Voice to “recognize” your particular voice and personalize your section in the remote, you had to “teach” your voice to VV by barking out prescribed words shown on the remote’s display. This could probably be a frustrating process for some, especially those who didn’t have the patience for it. Another flaw was the fact that in order for the remote to work, you had to have the infrared beam in line with your TV. So, if you left it stuck down in the couch when you programmed something for later, and there's no beam connection, that means no dice. Other flaws such as switching to channel “five” when you said “nine” along with misinterpretations of background noise, or if your buddy asks you what time you’re leaving and you shout “EIGHT!”, the channel might change. Funny when it happens, but that could probably get old pretty quickly. Luckily, the remote had a “TV MUTE” button for that exact problem. Dig that.


The man behind the VCR Voice! Go, Mike, Go!

Overall, for the time it came out (1992), this thing was pretty dang impressive. Proprietor and inventor Michael Bissonnette (who can’t even program his own VCR!) solved his problem and many other analog aficionado’s woes by using cutting edge (for the time!) voice recognition and fuzzy logic to make this gadget one of the most impressive and high-end VCR contraptions on the market. And for that, Michael Bissonnette, we VHSalute you! Wherever you are!


WHOA! That's kind of expensive, right?! No way, man. These things retail for over $300. Now jump on this TV Offer of a lifetime!!

Oh, and here a couple of choice lines from the infomercial on the VCR Voice: A woman’s testimonial simply states: “It doesn’t scare you…” – That’s good. That’s real good, lady. Are you afraid of your toaster, though? And my favorite, spoken with extreme zest from an actor portrayal: “It’s like a GOOD FRIEND!” And don’t we all need good friends!? Especially ones who don’t drink all your beer and know how to program your VCR?! Indeed we do. VHSide Note: Magnavox also came out with an almost exact replica of this product a little later, and both that knock-off and the Original VCR Voice remote are available online for about 10 bones, man. Watch the whole video RIGHT HURR, mang.

Groove and Groove and Rewind to the 90s.

Josh Schafer

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published