When Was the First Handheld Video Camera Invented?

The invention of handheld video cameras has revolutionized the way we capture and record our memories. It has made it possible for us to capture every moment of our lives, whether it’s a family vacation or a child’s first steps.

But have you ever wondered when the first handheld video camera was invented? Let’s delve into the history books and find out.

The Origins of Video Cameras

Video cameras have come a long way since their inception. The first video camera was invented in 1956 by Ampex Corporation and it weighed a whopping 150 pounds! The camera used magnetic tape to record images and was primarily used by television studios.

The Birth of Handheld Video Cameras

It wasn’t until the 1970s that handheld video cameras became a reality. In 1971, Sony invented the first portable video camera, called the Sony Portapak. The Portapak was revolutionary because it allowed people to take videos outside of studios and on location.

The Sony Portapak was a two-piece system that included a separate recording unit and camera. It used half-inch reel-to-reel tapes that could record up to 20 minutes of footage. While it wasn’t exactly lightweight at 20 pounds, it was much more portable than its predecessors.

The Rise of Camcorders

In the early 1980s, camcorders started to gain popularity. These were handheld video cameras that combined both the recording unit and camera into one device. This made them even more portable than the Sony Portapak and they quickly became popular with consumers.

One of the most popular early camcorders was the Panasonic Omnivision VHS-C. This camcorder used compact VHS tapes that could be easily inserted into VCRs for playback. It also had an autofocus feature that made it easier for people to capture clear footage.


In conclusion, handheld video cameras have come a long way over the years. From the massive, studio-bound cameras of the 1950s to the portable Sony Portapak of the 1970s and finally to the compact camcorders of the 1980s, technology has made it possible for us to capture our memories in a variety of ways. Today, smartphones have taken over as the go-to device for recording videos, but it’s important to remember where it all began.