Can Anybody Work This Thing?

New gadgets keep arriving to try to cure VCR illiteracy. The latest lets people simply talk to their machine.

Peter Jennings can't do it. Neither can Katie Couric. Tom Brokaw at least ! gives it a try. "Yes, I can program my VCR," he says, "but only for the 1956 version of What's My Line?"

Tipper Gore hasn't even figured out how to set the clock; she finally had to cover it with black masking tape to hide the relentless blinking -- 12:00/12:00/12:00 -- that is the unmistakable sign of a VCR illiterate. Barbara Walters has three VCRs and can't program any of them. "I'm reduced to asking friends to tape for me," she says. "I am deeply ashamed."


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!