Hitting the G-Code spot!

gcode Since the advent of the home video cassette recorder it had been a running joke that it was a mammoth, if not perplexing, task for anyone – or at least, anyone over the age of puberty – to attempt to pre-program the VCR to tape programs in advance. No two VCR models were the same and while many had no problems, there were just as many who either gave up in frustration or were constantly presented with programs that were not the ones they had hoped to record. (Hands up anyone who has stumbled in setting “AM” instead of “PM” when setting the VCR, or had problems converting to 24-hour time?)

But a VCR revolution was coming to solve all our problems in the form of G-Codes. An invention of the Gemstar Corporation, then publishers of America’s TV Guide magazine, the G-Code was a numerical code assigned to every listed television program which, when entered into a G-Code device, would instruct the VCR to record the program at its scheduled time.

The G-Code had been adopted in TV listings in the United States (where it was known as VCR Plus), Asia, Europe and New Zealand and, fifteen years ago this week, it made its debut in Australia.

tvweek_gcode TV Week was the first Australian publication to promote the G-Code system and incorporate the numerical codes into their listings. It was not the first time the magazine had tried to publish a VCR coding system. Some years earlier the magazine had published barcodes that could be read by certain VCR remote controls to pre-program the recorder. However, the number of programs that were featured with barcodes in the magazine were extremely limited and only a certain brand of VCR was compatible – whereas G-Code was in-built into a range of VCR models and even those that didn’t have the feature could use G-Code by purchasing a handheld unit (pictured, above) that would communicate the codes to the VCR.

So now the problem of programming the VCR was, according to G-Code, a thing of the past. And while the G-Codes continue to be published in TV Week and virtually every other major TV listing in the country, the problem now appears to be our TV networks and their undying inability to be able to stick to what is published in the TV guides!

Permanent link to this article: https://televisionau.com/2009/03/hitting-the-g-code-spot.html


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  1. I wonder if there are still G-Code systems around? You know, the handheld units that you used if your VCR wasn’t a G-Code built in recorder. If that could be programmed into a DVD recorder, or a DVR, it could save time… and TV Week!

    • graham bryant on 30 September 2012 at 1:00 PM
    • Reply

    i own a lg model 983w vcr and i cant record with it , can anyone tellwhy . there doesnt seem to be a timer or clock on the console so how do u operate it.

    1. Graham try contacting LG on 1300 LG CARE (1300 54 2273)

    • graham bryant on 1 November 2012 at 1:13 PM
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    i bought a g code vcr second hand so it doesnt have a manual and i cant seem to be able to record programs , it doesnt have a timer so how do you program the blessed thing

    • Arthur on 28 January 2013 at 8:50 PM
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    I like gcodes. They save time, and make it easy to record the programs in which I am interested. I like to watch my programs when I want to watch them,miso I record all the ones in which I am interested. Please find me more places where I can see them at least a week ahead. Pleeeeease!

    • Nigel on 27 October 2014 at 9:29 AM
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    The G code system was great and so easy. How do I record TV today easily.

    • Zappy on 28 April 2023 at 3:13 AM
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    Recording a program on digital TV is so easy its ridiculous. Also you dont even need to record it because you can watch it on the catch up.

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