Inventor Of Video Rentals Dies

Just a quick link to an interesting story from the New York Times:

George Atkinson, who helped popularize home viewing of Hollywood films by opening the first video rental store in 1979, died on Thursday at his home in Northridge, Calif. He was 69.

When Hollywood executives began making feature-length films available on video in the 1970′s, they charged $50 each and envisioned affluent consumers building large libraries, just as they did with records. Mr. Atkinson, a onetime stuntman and occasional actor, saw things differently.

To start his rental business, Mr. Atkinson bought 50 movies that had recently been made available on video, including “The French Connection,” “The Sound of Music” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” He then advertised their availability for rental in a one-inch ad in The Los Angeles Times.

Customers arrived in droves and willingly paid the $10-a-day rental fee. (Only the wealthy could afford the $1,000 that VCR’s cost then.)

Renting videos and DVDs is not something I ever thought about someone having to “invent”, but apparently this guy did it. He may be dead, but his legacy will live on.

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