What VHS stands for — all about retro movies and tapes from the 90s

Updated: March 22, 2023
6 min read
What VHS stands for — all about retro movies and tapes from the 90s
by Jolene Haston
Tech Expert & Writer
Checked by
Quality Control team

If you are too young to remember VHS, you will definitely find this article interesting. In it, you can learn all about the VHS video format, which was the most popular in the 80s and 90s. The Howly team has prepared this fascinating article in which you can learn what VHS stands for, how these tapes work, what replaced them, and whether you can watch tapes now.

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What does VHS mean?

VHS stand for the standard of video recording on film cassettes. VHS was used to distribute visual media as well as to record over-the-air television using a video recorder (VCR) at home. The tape length was usually 180 minutes. But there were different kinds of tapes that could be up to six hours long. This was the average length of a standard movie, sometimes enough time to record titles. VHS was developed by the Japan Victor Company (JVC) in the early 1970s and hit the market in 1976. And in America, the recording format was introduced a year after its official release in the home country.

How does a VHS tape work?

What VHS stands for

If you want to know about the VHS and what does it stand for, let's figure out the tapes. The videotape of this system consists of a housing with transparent windows for film control, two reels, and a cover. In addition, the tape is equipped with a mechanism that prevents the sagging and unwinding of the tape from the rolls, which are fixed by mechanical brakes. To make a recording on the cassette, users had to take several steps:

  1. Place the videotape in the receiving window of the VCR. It was necessary to wait for the tape to settle into place.
  2. Once the tape was in place, you could press Record.
  3. After the desired video moments have been recorded on the tape, you can press Stop.
  4. The tape now contains the desired portion of the video. To play it, users inserted the cassette into the player and pressed Play.

VHS vs DVD — what happened?

What VHS stands for

What did VHS stand for, and how did it lose popularity? VHS tapes were the market leader for many years. But with time, their popularity began to fade. And that's because DVDs entered the world market and rapidly began to gain popularity. The first DVD players began to appear in the hands of users in 1996, and five years later, DVDs overtook their competitors in the video rental market, taking rightful first place. After 2003, VHS sales began to decline, and two years later the last film on cassette was officially released. Three types of DVDs were produced, covering the needs of the audience at the time:

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  • Video, which was perfect for video recording;
  • Audio, which was great for audio recordings and music;
  • ROM was the medium for all kinds of user information.

Can I use VHS today?

Many users know what is VHS stand for and wonder if these tapes can be used now. In fact, there is no one certain answer to this question.

When comparing VHS with modern formats, one can conclude that the tapes are significantly inferior in quality. What's a VHS disadvantage? It includes graininess, low resolution, as well as the uncomfortable form of cassettes, which require a special player. In comparison, an ordinary flash drive is much more convenient because it holds a lot more information, has a small shape, and gives the opportunity to record quality video.

But now, there are many connoisseurs of vintage and retro styles. They deliberately keep and collect VHS tapes. So if you adore the atmosphere of the 80s and 90s and appreciate retro effects in photos, you can use these tapes and enjoy retro movies.


What does VHS stand for?

The term VHS stand for a format for recording video material (most often movies or TV shows) on special cassettes. With these tapes, you could record videos or buy pre-recorded films. This format is now considered obsolete, and it has been replaced by new, higher-quality options.

How to decipher the VHS abbreviation, and how to know what does VHS means?

If you want to know what VHS stands for, you first need to know the transcription. It is very simple because the abbreviation is made up of the first letters of these three words, Video Home System. They help you to understand why it was such a popular format: it was used at home by almost every family.


In this article, you can find out the VHS meaning, how tapes work, why VHS lost popularity, and whether this format is relevant now. Save this article for yourself and share it with your friends who also want to know what does VHS stand for and like the atmosphere of retro movies.

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May 04, 2023
The VHS tape era was awesome! Thanks for the reminder.
April 29, 2023
Very cool article, I just found some VHS tapes!
April 25, 2023
I still have some VHS tapes, by the way.
April 21, 2023
Well done to you for writing about it. I will show your article to the children so they can learn more about how we used to watch movies.
April 17, 2023
My most important moments are recorded on tapes. Very interesting article, thank you.
April 13, 2023
Great article!
April 08, 2023
I remember in the '90s we used to pass these videotapes from hand to hand. It was nice to remember the past.
April 04, 2023
Thank you for the wonderful article!
March 31, 2023
I'm a fan of retro movies and was excited to read your article.
March 26, 2023
I'm too young and only remember DVDs, and I've only heard of VHS tapes from my parents. It was cool to read this, thanks.
March 22, 2023
Wow! This is a very informative article. It was interesting, thank you!

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