Daddy Todd wrote:
The concept we now have of a "release date" simply didn't exist in the nascent consumer home video market back then. Paramount really created that market through it's aggressive pricing of Star Trek tapes in the '80's. Releasing Star Trek II and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Special Longer Version) at "sell-through" pricing of $39.95 was unheard-of in 1983. Videocassettes were selling for around $100 a pop at that time, and were aimed at the rental market. NOBODY in Hollywood thought that fans would want to build a library of their favorite movies -- much less episodes of old TV shows -- until Paramount proved the market existed with Star Trek.
When Paramount started releasing these on videocassette, there were two places to buy: old-school electronics & camera stores who were brave enough to stock a few copies, and video rental stores that would special-order them for insane fans (like me.) When "Media" stores (Like Media Play and Suncoast) started opening up around the turn of the '90's, I was ecstatic. Up till that time, I could expect to pay list price for every video I bought. It was a nice change.
Keep in mind that, years before releasing individual episodes, Paramount released 5 or so double-episode tapes (at the usual $100 a tape) of selected episodes for video rental stores. They also released a single-episode tape of "Space Seed" in 1982, to capitalize on the success of TWoK. I don't know when these came out; I don't even know what was on the tapes, apart from my recollection that one included both parts of "The Menagerie" with the end credits of Part I and the teaser/opening credits of Part II edited out to make it look like a "feature-length" movie.
Actually, most movies were nowhere near $100 a tape. The first film to come out with that exorbitant pricetag on VHS was Star Wars
in 1982, at $125, and by that time consumers buying movies on tape was common enough that 20th Century-Fox added the paranoid touch of calling it an "indefinite rental" just in case they regretted making that valuable property available for sale and decided to... I dunno, activate a homing beacon and call them all in?
The 5 double-episode Star Trek
tapes were released in 1980. I got a couple of them by special order through a video store in 1981 and they were around $20 or $25 each. The episodes included were:
Volume 1: The Menagerie
Volume 2: Amok Time/Journey to Babel
Volume 3: The Enterprise Incident/The Immunity Syndrome
Volume 4: The Trouble with Tribbles/Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
Volume 5: Balance of Terror/The City on the Edge of Forever
(I should also add that the videotape catalog "Movies Unlimited" has been in the business of selling to consumers since 1978.)