Ampex 1 Inch Equipment Catalog

This page is a listing of all known Ampex 1 inch VTRs. The list is mainly of SMPTE type A machines, of which Ampex made over 30 models of. After this list is the SMPTE type C machines, which are much more well known. So, if you are looking for type C stuff, it's way at the bottom of the page. A link has been provided to take you there.

Type A machines are listed in order of model number, as the production order is not known. They type C machines are listed in order of production.

If you have any additions or corrections for this list, please let me know. I am sure it's woefully incomplete! An email link can be found at the bottom of the page.

Thanks! Don Norwood for all the contributions you have made to this page, including numerous images from old catalogs!

Thanks! Michael Arcidiacono for the VPR-6 photo!

Updated 7-17-2001. Added picture of a VPR-6.

Click here for type C machines.

Ampex Type A VTR's

VP4500, VP4500C

Sorry, there is no picture of a VP4500.

The VP4500 is a player only. The C denotes a machine is capable of color playback. This is actually a later model, contemporary with the VR5800 series. This machine featured full bandwidth playback, and a hetrodyne color processor that did not require the pilot tone used in many models of type A VTRs.


Click here for a picture of a VPR4500.

The VPR4500 is a VR4500 with 'professional' output connectors and an improved cabinet. There are undoubtedly performance updates as well.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5000.

This is a basic VTR, which records and plays back in low band. Nothing else is known.


Click here for a picture of a VR5100.

This machine appears to have similar features to the VR5000. The differences are not known. Do you know?


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5100E.

I have no idea how this might differ from a VR5100, other than it might have an editor in it.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5200.

The VR5200 is a basic low band only record/play machine. The machine has no other notable features except an RF modulator that could output channels 2 through 5.


Click here for a picture of a VPR5200.

The VPR5200 is a VR5200 with 'professional' input and output connectors, and an improved cabinet. There are undoubtedly performance updates as well.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5800.

The VR5800 was a very common 1 inch VTR in schools, businesses, and government in the 60's. Perhaps more of these were produced than any other type A machine. These machines feature a belt-driven scanner, and single motor drive for everything else. They are also capable of recording both low and high band type A. I have two machines of this family in the collection. Optional color was available for this machine.


Click here for a picture of a VPR5800C.

The VPR5800 is a VR5800 with 'professional' input and output connectors, and an improved cabinet. There are undoubtedly performance updates as well. The 'C' version included installed color capability. This machine also featured BNC video connectors and an external sync input.


Click here for a picture of an XVR5800.

The XVR-5800 is a wideband medical or scientific VTR. However, it is still capable of being used as an ordinary VTR. Oddly enough, this machine was wired for a color adaptor, even though most applications are B/W. I have an XVR5800 in the collection. Of all my type A machines, it is in the best condition.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5803.

The VR5803 is a PAL version of a VR5800. Nothing else is known about it.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5900.

Nothing is known about the VR5900. Do you know anything?


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR5903.

The PAL version of the VR5900.


Click here for a picture of a VR6000.

Another basic low band only machine. Was capable of stop motion. Nothing else is known. This ad is from the 1967 Allied catalog.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR6003.

The PAL version of the VR6000.


Click here for a picture of a VR6050.

The VR6050 is a very basic low band only record/play VTR designed for consumer or low end industrial usage.


Click here for a picture of a VR6275.

The VR6275 is a VR6000, packaged for home use. It was housed in a walnut cabinet, compared to the vinyl-covered wood cabinets of most other type A machines. It also featured a tuner and a signal switching system. This permitted watching one show while taping another-- a harbinger of things to come! It also included it's own audio amp and speaker. This ad is from the 1967 Allied catalog.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR7000.

Another machine that records and plays both low and high band. This machine was designed for heavier use than the VR6000 series. It also featured professional style audio inputs and outputs, as well as a better audio section. One interesting feature of the VR7000 was an RF modulator.


Click here for a picture of a VR7100.

This machine is a console mounted VR7000. It came with a TV camera, and a small monitor mounted on a stalk. It was intended for education and industrial training. This ad is from the 1967 Allied catalog.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR7003.

The PAL version of the VR7000.


Sorry, there is no ;picture of a VR7450.

Nothing is known about the VR7450. The break in the model number scheme suggests that this machine was unusual.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR7500.

This is another machine that exists in large numbers. It is capable of recording and playing both low and high band. This may be the first machine in the A format line capable of a full 4.2 MHz video bandwidth. I have a VR7500 in the collection. This is the first color-capable type A VTR, but it required specially modified monitors that could accept an external subcarrier reference. (It ised a pilot tone to correct chroma timebase jittter. See the VTR formats page for more details. An external adaptor was later marketed to correct this difficulty.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR7500.

A VR7500 with electronic editing.


Sorry, there is no picture of an XVR7500.

The XVR7500 is a machine intended for medical imaging. Like the basic VR7500, it can record and play back normal high band tapes in it's 'low band' position. In the 'high band' position, it records with an FM deviation of 5.0 to 7.0 MHz. This position can be used to play back, but not record, ordinary low band tapes. This machine also had an 875 line (military?) variant. It can be identifed by having a tape speed of 10.46 in/sec noted on it's name plate. (Normal type A speed is 9.6 in/sec.)


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR7503.

The PAL version of the VR7500.


Click here for a picture of a VR7800.

Another machine that records and plays both low and high band. Is probably a full-featured machine. A poor picture of it suggests all electronic transport controls. It also features removable PC cards, making it a fully professional machine. This might be the lowest model of this series to have a capstan servo. Optional color was also available for this machine.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR7800.

The VPR7800 is probably a VR7800 with 'professional' style inputs and outputs, and most likely a different cabinet. There is also a good chance the VR7800 and VPR7800 are the same machine.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VR7803.

The PAL version of the VPR7800.


>Click here for a picture of a VPR7900.
Click here for a picture of a TBC790.

The VPR-7900 is a VPR-7800 with an extra modulation standard and a different paint job on the cabinet.This machine had three carrier positions: low, high and very high. The very high position is the same as quad high band and type C. Color timebase stabilization was accompliahed by using a burst locked hetrodyne processor that did not require a pilot tone. However, the 511 kHz pilot tone was also recorded in high band mode for compatibility with older machines. A full timebase corrector was also available, the Ampex TBC 790. The machine utilized 5 printed-circuit motors: Drum, capstan, supply reel, takeup reel, and a second capstan motor for shuttle modes. The machine featured full logic mode control, which would allow transitioning between any mode, such as fast wind-> play. The machine had a tension servo in adition to drum and capstan servos. Later servos were mostly digital. The timebase stability of the last generation machines was excellent for helical scan, with just .5 microsecond of timebase jitter. This was required, as the TBC-790 only had a window if 1.5 microsecond. Three optional module sets were available for the VPR-7900. One set was for non-TBC color playback. Another was a proc amp with sync generator. The third was a dropout compensator, essentially a miniaturized 3M DP100. The machine weighed 150 pounds, and the TBC-790 weighed about 120 pounds. The TBC-790 was also similar in size to the VPR-7900. all in all, the VPR-7900 represented the ultimate development of what had originally been a fairly simple machine. Any further development would require a radical departure from the basic configuration of the type A machine. That would be embodied in the VPR-1.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR7903.

The PAL version of the VPR7900.


Click here for a picture of a VPR7950.

This is a console model of the VR7900. The console included monitoring and a TBC (TBC 790 analog, TBC800 digital). This machine was on the verge of being full broadcast! Of all the older type A machines, this one is the most sought after.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR7953.

The PAL version of the VPR7950.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR-1.

The VPR-1 was a huge departure from the earlier type A machines. It featured a vertical transport, all direct-drive motors, excellent servos, and an early form of AST. (It was capable of slow motion at 1/5 speed and still.) Other features included a digital tape timer, and a full electronic editor. The video head could be changed without replacing the entire scanner, or doing tricky tip projection adjustments required in the earlier machines. (A Dale Dolby invention.) However, the introduction of type C killed further interest in type A, which nearly became the defacto 1 inch broadcast standard.

Many VPR-1's ended up to a strange fate, unique in the history of videotape. Read more about it in the type C section!

Ampex type C VTRs


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR-1.

When type C was first announced and demnstrated, it apparently caused a big stir. Many people had just purchased the very expensive VPR-1 type A machine and wondered if they had just squandered their money. To protect their investment, Ampex did something that had never been done before, nor has it been done since-- change the fundamental format of an already manufactured machine! The conversio to type C consisted of replacing the scanner assembly, and a number of electronic chages. But, the conversion was highly sucessful-- many converted VPR-1's are still in use today. Luckily, a few unconverted VPR-1's exist as well.


Click here for a picture of a VPR-2B.

The VPR-2 was a 'C format from the ground up' rework of the VPR-1. This machine included electronics optimized for the now-popular C format. It also included a highly capable AST (Automatic Scan tracking) that could provide noiseless playback from 1/5 reverse motion to 1.5 X forward. The electronics provided a full three channels of audio, and an optional fourth for CCIR machines. (The third channel became standarized for time code. However, it was a full-performance audio channel.) The VPR-2B featured better tape handling, and better slow motion. It could do 1X reverse to 3X forward with the right TBC. In any case, this machine is one of the great VTR's of all time, and many of these machines are still in use despite their age. Quadruplex Park has a VPR-2B in the collection.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR-20.

The VPR-20 was one of two portable 1 inch C format machines built by Ampex. It was a fairly simple, rugged machine that got the job done. I don't have a lot of information on this machine, but they are out there in the back rooms of many TV stations.


Sorry, there is no picture of a VPR-80.

Termed 'The VPR of the '80's', the VPR-80 was a totally new design. It was designed for everyday recording and playback done at TV stations and teleproduction facilities. In a way, it was a throwback to the type A days in that it uses only one head for record and playback. However, this head also has AST capabilities, and it is capable of the same slo-mo performance as the VPR-2B. This machie has thoroughly modern electronics, such as power MOSFET reel motor drivers (Very trouble free compared to the VPR-2B!), and Ampex's first microprocessor digital servo. Next to the VPR-2B, this is probably Ampex'es most popular 1 inch machine. A few VPR-80's were produced with the 'RCA' brand on them when RCA could not deliver a replacement for their ill-fated TR800!


Sorry, there is no picture of a XVR-80.

The XVR-80 is a wideband VTR intended for use in medical applications. It is nearly identical to the VPR-80.


Click here for a picture of a VPR-5.

The VPR-5 is a bold experiment in technology. The goal was to develop the smallest possible full performance type C VTR. Working jointly with Nagra Kudeleski of Switzerland, a machine was produced that is as awesome to look at as it use. No expense was spared to make this machine a technological tour-de-force. It is miniaturized way beyond what was typical for the mid-80's. It had an advanced power system, and it was one of the first products to feature a 'fuel gauge' on it's batteries. The reel motors were so miniaturized that they fit inside the reel hubs. This allowed the hubs to spring out on arms to accomodate an hour reel of tape. The scanner dynamically slowed itself by charging the battery! The case/frame of the machine was machined out of a block of aluminum. Despite being so small and light, the case can hold a person's weight. (NOT recmooemded!) The record electronics were described as 'The best Ampex ever built'. Despite this, the VPR-5 had a short life. It was so far ahead of it's time that many of the features did not work for long. Soon, the machines became challenging to use, and were replaced by camcorders like Betacam. Many of them ended up in the dumpster, but a few have survived and they are sought after by collectors. The VPR-5 also has the noteriety of being the only VTR ever to become part of the collection of an art museum. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a VPR-5 on display as a fine example of technological art! Read more about this remarkable machine on the Ampex/Nagra VPR-5 Page. There is a VPR-5 in the Quadruplex Park collection.


Click here for a picture of a VPR-6.

The VPR-6 is a production recorder based on the VPR-80. It features seperate video heads for record and playback. This gives the VPR-6 better performance for heavy-duty editing, and improves the reliability of the slow motion. It also has audio confidence heads. In all other respects, it's a VPR-80.


Click here for a picture of a VPR-3.

The Ampex VPR-3 is to production what the VPR-5 was to field work. Only, the VPR-3 worked reliably! This machine is a direct descendant of the quadruplex AVR-1. It features air lubricated guides, an extremely effective reel servo system that can recue a 10 second cut in six seconds. The extended range AST can actually recover a frame of video, ideal for many intensely graphical scenes. The editing features and flexibility of this machine cannot be matched by any other VTR ever built. When used with the Zeus TBC, the VPR-3/Zeus system can even correct an inverted color frame without objectinable artifacts. Although these machines have declined in popularity in the digital age due to their maintenance requirements, those who can still support them use and love their VPR-3's. This was the most sucessful high technology VTR Ampex ever built-- 3,000 of them were made. When broadcast engineers are asked, 'what's the best analog VTR ever built?', the answer is invariably the VPR-3 or the IVC 9000.

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