From OP’s link: Marion Stokes was secretly recording television twenty-four hours a day for thirty years. It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis at the dawn of the twenty-four hour news cycle. It ended on December 14, 2012 while the Sandy Hook massacre played on television as Marion passed away. In between, Marion recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today. Before “fake news” Marion was fighting to protect the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television. The public didn’t know it, but the networks were disposing their archives for decades into the trashcan of history. Remarkably Marion saved it, and now the Internet Archive will digitize her tapes and we’ll be able to search them online for free. This is a mystery in the form of a time capsule. It’s about a radical Communist activist, who became a fabulously wealthy recluse archivist. Her work was crazy but it was also genius, and she would pay a profound price for dedicating her life to this visionary and maddening project.


I feel like this is the product of some type of spectrum activity. A version of hoarding. I think she was right in doing it, but we can also appreciate that certain atypical, autistic behavior can be incredibly valuable.


For sure


Agreed; struck me as OCD




The tapes usually went for about 6 hours. You could also set a time to start recording. No idea if she had multiple VCRs. You could buy the tapes for $5 or so iirc. A lot of money over the years.


>"a profound price for dedicating her life" > >Can you imagine having to hang around the TV all day so you could plug a new tape into the VCR every hour or two? Even if you used long tapes and slow recording speed, what a monotonous drag. I wonder if she had helpers? Not saying it wasn't a lot of effort, but assuming she had multiple VCRs, it wouldn't have been necessary to hang around. If she had 3 of them, she would only have had to change tapes once a day in each.




You are deff confusing video tapes with audio. Video deff went to 6 and 8 as I have many recordings from the 90s in a box somewhere (and no way to play them)


I know they did at least 6 hours (but for some reason think they may have gone as long as 8), but accepting 6 hours it would still only take 4 VCRs set on timed recording to limit the number of tape changes to once a day per machine. Agreed, longer time was less quality


I was an adult in this era, and didn’t record a single thing because of the FBI warnings lol


We have tons of VHS tapes at my mom's house, each with upwards of three full-length movies that she taped off the TV, commercials and all. So 6 hours definitely sounds right.


Multiple channels tho


Automatic cassette changers were definitely a thing for Betamax, my uncle used to have one. You would load a stack of blank tapes at the top of the machine & when one cassette ran out it would eject it out the front & load the next blank one from above.


The film is available [on Amazon](https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8863066/)


How did she become wealthy?


Apparently she bought stock in Apple early on, and convinced some well-off relatives to do the same, and this paid off big time. She also apparently had a hoard of Apple products




Can you imagine storing that amount of tapes? You'd need your own wing in the national archives to house all of that.


It would be cool if this could be archived online but I doubt it due to copyright. But there’s a lot of gems I’m sure.


From the link. “Remarkably Marion saved it, and now the Internet Archive will digitize her tapes and we’ll be able to search them online for free.”


Nice. I eventually got around to clicking the link and saw that. I want to see the commercials . The 80’s were…a time.


Please elaborate on what you meant by the 80s were a time. I know there was gnarly music etc. But what about commercials specifically?


Emergence of new technologies. More racial integration in tv, musically the giants of the 60s are doing second acts in the 80s and then new types of music : punk, electronic styles. Peoples predictions of what the future would be like. That sort thing. It was a prosperous time generally and during times of prosperity people look to the future, try new things, new ideas etc.


Ok thanks for the explanation. This idea of archived media really fascinates me. Sometimes I do try and find old news reels for local cities broadcast I’m the 1960s and 1970s because I find those decades interesting and the 1990s because that’s when I was growing up. For some reason I never seek out the 1980s. That’s why I reached out to better understand what I’m missing out on.


I grew up in the 90s too but my earliest memories are from the 80s especially the music - parents always had radio on, lots of road trips. Plus the 90s were in a lot of ways a response to the 80s so the origins of a lot of 90s trends began in the 80s. Grunge, personal computers, Nintendo/ video games, politics, movies etc.


If you get the chance to find the 1980's movie The Toy starring Richard Pryor (Famous Comedian) check it out.... It probably speaks still quite clearly of the 1980s.... And it's not being sarcastic with the premise. People forget how close we are Timewise to the Newsprint (medias) version of the End of Slavery and that the Civil Rights Movement was US as a Nation doing everything we could to End the practices that were carried over and in some instances in different parts of our country hidden differently


Commercials tend to encapsulate day to day life in a way that other media doesn’t. Scripted shows focus on interpersonal relations that gives them a sort of timelessness. News reports tend to focus on “big picture.” Advertisements give a bit more “color” of day to day life. Foods people ate, cars they drove, clothes they wore.


No prescription drug commercials!


Yeah copyright is never an issue. YouTube is FULL of people's digitized VHS cassettes from the 80's and 90's, often containing hours of TV and ads. Nobody gives a damn really.


You all ever hear of [My 90s TV](https://www.my90stv.com/) ? You can change it to any decade and customize what you're seeing. It even has commercials. I forgot about then whenever I remember it I binge it. So.. thanks for this amazing info because I'm so glad I know about it and I'm reminded to binge some old TV!


Thank you so much for posting this! This is something I never knew I needed.


It would need to be an organized manner so you see what's there rather than accidentally stumblingly upon something. Cataloguing and categorization are key.




You could also be smart about what you post online. For example, she may have recorded an episode of friends, but that still exists in its original quality. We don't need to post that online.


Yeah I was curious if anyone had considered digitizing the content (which would preserve it far better)


Dunno if it was her, but people like her have actually recorded so much, that entire seasons of shows or films have been lost over time. Hell, even NASA accidentally erased the moon landing footage.


"erased" cough faked cough jk /s I couldn't resist.


It’s so irrelevant that they don’t care. It won’t matter until something that happened in the past and was forgotten suddenly comes back to bite someone.


I don’t mean interesting from a “gotcha” moment. A lot of the stuff is over 40 years old and the major actors are dead. Can’t catch Reagan in a contradiction. But from a historical perspective it’s always fascinating to see the way societies change, discourse changes, the thoughts, concerns and tropes.


I like to figure out what diet trends were like based on the commercials.


It's all diet cola baby.


I taped the entire Live Aid on VHS in 1985 and I thought I was being badass by doing that. I even went through all the tapes and recorded the counter positions of all the acts so you could find them easily. Don't think I ever watched it again, lol.


You were the original version of people who film concerts on their phones.


The OG member of /r/datahoarder decades before reddit even existed.


I wonder how she kept all of those tapes from binding. Maybe it's different with Beta, but VHS tapes would bind up after a while if they're not used. Imagine having to turn all of those tapes all of the time to keep that from happening. Maintaining them alone sounds like an impressive feat.




I have family that works in film restoration and some of the shit I've seen him pull clean footage out of is *really* impressive. Modern technology can seemingly put back together anything as long as the film itself isn't brittle and crumbling.


I suspect that if you’re set up for it with the right equipment and chemicals then any individual tape really is very easy to preserve and recover. I think it’s probably mostly a question of getting enough money together to pay qualified people to go through them all.


Wonder how many of those tapes still work well.


Hopefully either she or her family was compensated for her contribution.


By whom?


Those who utilized her work. Hopefully they made a contribution.


This post shows up once a month on this sub


If this had been 20 years earlier there would be real historical value as there is a lot of permanently "lost" TV from earlier eras. Of course most people didn't have home recording capabilities - which is part of why stuff is rare. (The other part being the networks and studios didn't keep everything forever.) But I suspect that by the 80s everything was being better preserved and has been digitized already.


It wasn't and it hasn't, click the link and have a read.


you're wrong and reading the article would help clear that up