Casio VS-101 (© digicammuseum.com)

Casio VS-101 (1986)

The Casio VS-101. Hiroyuki Suetaka, an engineer who designed LSI for watches at Casio, took his concept of a still video camera to his senior manager, got it approved and in May of 1985 a special team of 8 engineers started to work on an electronic camera. It was called 'The K Project'. After the design phase was completed it was announced as the VS-101 in December of 1986. The imager was a Hitachi MOS sensor with 300,000 pixels making it not only the first MOS still video camera but also the first electronic still camera for private use. It went on sale in 1987 for a seemingly low price of 'just under $1,000'. Since Casio targeted private households they estimated that they would sell around 10,000 units per month. But the market failed to respond to the VS-101 and only 3,000 to 4,000 units were sold. With this bitter result all developments of a successor were shelved.

The VS-101 was a bulky still video camera which resembled a bulky camcorder at best. It was quite heavy and difficult to operate holding it with one hand. It already featured a built-in playback unit and it could be connected directly to a TV unit. Actually a good thing as it eliminated the use for playback units and adaptors. Unknown to most Casio also offered a variety of accessoires for this beast. Apart from a remote control there was also a flash unit available, especially made for this camera. A collector might be able to come across this camera every now and then but the flash unit is an impossible find.

The AC adapter was bulky too and had a weight of 780 gr.! It took 8 hours to charge a battery which would then theoretically last for 800 recordings or 30 minutes of playback. The camera could record 5 pictures per second depending on the light conditions. It also featured a self timer to take selfies. It also had automatic exposure and picture playback and erasing capability. When hooked up to a VCR deck one could also copy images to a VHS tape. Each picture would consume five minutes of VHS tape, so a 120 minute VHS tape could actually store up to 1,440 pictures on it! Talking about vintage mass storage. 

Specifications

  • Brand: Casio
  • Model: VS-101
  • First mentioned: 1986
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $999
  • Imager Type: 0.28 2/3" MOS
  • Resolution: -
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Video Floppy Disk
  • Lens: f=11mm / F2.8
  • Shutter: 1/8s to 1/1,000s
  • Aperture Range: F2.8 / F5.6 / F11
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: 160 x 101 x 86mm
  • Weight: 960 gr.
  • Remarks: -

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