LabGuy's World: My First Video Recording System: 1977!
JFD-700 EIAJ VTR and Videmo 127e Vidicon Camera
Videmo 127e & JFD 700

        This is the only information about the JFD, Model 700, B/W EIAJ VTR on the internet! (Feel free to prove me wrong. Reference to my other pages not allowed.) Right after joining the Air Force in 1977, I got a loan for $900 for the purchase of this second hand machine. Upon inspection, I found it used but only slightly abused. This particular JFD-700 had spent some time in a flooded basement. It suffered from a little rust and mildew, but was repairable! I learned a lot from that experience. Lacking a proper alignment tape, I tweaked on everything that could be adjusted. That VTR was tuned up beyond specification!  After my fine tuning, this recorder could actually produce intermittent fits of really bad (direct) color during playback! I didn't have to worry about interchange either, since I didn't know any another VTR owners anyway!

Front view  of the JFD-700 EIAJ VTR
        Once rendered operational, this machine recorded every episode of  the SF space opera farce, Quark. Every episode of Richard Pryor's variety comedy show. The first free flight of the space shuttle Enterprise. My JFD 700 documented dozens of amateur television QSL's originating from Metrovision's ATV repeater, WR4AAG, located in Arlington, Virginia. I'm proud to have been a member of such a historic ham radio club, even if only for a short while, in 1977. My modest investment was completely recovered in the pleasure I got from repairing it and all of the fun I had with it afterwards. Keep in mind, Betamax VCRs sold for $2,000 then and the public was still quite skeptical about home video. This was a very novel toy in 1977!
The Videmo 127e Vidicon Camera - 1977.
Videmo, Made in France

        I bought the Videmo 127e after I paid off the loan on the JFD-700. It was an excellent video camera, it has a digital sync generator, a rare thing even in high end equipment of that era. As I understand the story, the fellow that designed this camera didn't conduct adequate market research beforehand, only to discover that there was no market for a $1200 surveillance camera! The going price was and still is about $200! It is the most over designed device I have ever seen. The chassis is milled from a solid block of copper! There's a little compartment for each and every little circuit board. It weighs over 15 pounds and has corners as sharp as nails. I'd hate to drop this baby on my toe!

        I'm sorry to say that the old JFD 700 is no more. The main motor failed around 1980 and I was foolish enough to believe a small town tv repairman when he told me that a new motor could never be obtained for it. So, I scrapped the '700 for parts. Don't bother sending me hate mail. I'm still kicking myself. Who knows, maybe someone out there has a JFD 700 that they could donate to the Museum of Extinct Video Tape Recorders?

        Good news. The Videmo camera is alive and well and living at LabGuy's World! Around 1982, I kludged an Hitachi 1-1/2" electronic viewfinder on top of the old Videmo camera. I also modified the Videmo to accept a 2/3" plumbicon tube. I was hoping to cut down the amount of image lag. From that experiment, I learned that video cameras control their sensitivity by varying the target voltage for vidicon tubes and the beam current in the case of plumbicons. Image lag is probably worse now than it was with a vidicon tube installed! But, the sensitivity is noticeably better. Pictures 1 & 2, above, shows the Videmo today in 1999.  Picture 3 is looking at the 1-1/2" viewfinder and picture 4 is a vidcap of myself taken with the plumbicon Videmo. (March 26, 1999)


Last updated: January 09, 2005