When Did the First Handheld Video Camera Come Out?

Have you ever wondered when the first handheld video camera was invented? The answer may surprise you. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore the history of the handheld video camera.

Early Days of Video Recording

Before we dive into the world of handheld video cameras, let’s talk about the early days of video recording. In 1951, the first video tape recorder was invented by Charles Ginsburg at Ampex Corporation.

This device was huge and required two people to operate it. It wasn’t until 1963 that Sony released the first portable video recorder, which weighed in at a whopping 22 pounds.

The Birth of Handheld Video Cameras

It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that handheld video cameras started to become widely available. Sony released their first portable videocassette recorder, the Betamax, in 1975. However, it wasn’t until 1982 that Sony released their first truly handheld video camera, the Sony Betamovie BMC-100P.

This groundbreaking camera weighed only 1.4 kg and allowed users to record up to one hour of footage on a single cassette tape. It also featured an automatic focus system and a built-in microphone.

The Rise of VHS

While Sony was busy developing their Betamax technology, JVC was working on their own videocassette format – VHS (Video Home System). In 1983, JVC released their first handheld camcorder, the GR-C1U. This camera used VHS-C tapes which were smaller than standard VHS tapes but still offered an hour of recording time.

The Digital Age

The late 1990s saw a shift from analog to digital technology in the world of video recording. In 1995, Sony released their first digital camcorder, which used MiniDV tapes. These tapes were significantly smaller than VHS-C tapes and offered higher quality footage.

Over the years, handheld video cameras continued to evolve and improve. Today, we have a wide range of options available, from compact point-and-shoot cameras to high-end professional camcorders.


The first handheld video camera, the Sony Betamovie BMC-100P, was released in 1982. It revolutionized the world of videography by making it possible for anyone to capture footage on-the-go. Since then, technology has continued to advance, giving us even more powerful tools for capturing and sharing our experiences with the world.