The Love Machine: three ways that porn has shaped the technology we use

Porn is a word that makes most people cringe at the mere mention of it, but throughout history porn has shaped human culture and technology more than most would realise. Even in ancient times porn was evident; in the ruins of Pompeii researches found fully preserved indecent images painted on the side of brothels and other buildings. Not much has changed to this day, with an estimated 30% of internet traffic being pornography based. From the beginning porn has been an early adopter of technology, with the ultimate goal of giving the most gratifying experience to the consumer, but few know the extent in which the industry is linked with new technologies. In this article we will explore three of the ways in which porn has developed modern technology. 

VHS

A standard VHS cassette running on wound tape

New technologies are key in driving both consumers and industries forward, and in the early 70s there was a battle raging. Two new technologies were tussling to become the prominent video playing technologies: JCV’s VHS and Sony’s Betamax. Both had their benefits, VHS had a lower price point and the hardware was more accessible, whilst Betamax was of a higher quality but was more expensive.

However one of the main driving forces for VHS was its adoption by the porn industry, who predominantly back the VHS format. The home pornography market at the time was massive, in the days before the internet, it was the best way to get high quality video into homes. With their backing, the nail was in the coffin for Betamax, finally conceding defeat by producing their own VHS system in 1988.

Super 8 film and home video

An early example of super 8 film

With all of us walking around with high quality recording equipment in our pockets, its east to forget how difficult it used to be to actually film events. However when Kodak released their Super 8 Film in 1965, an improvement on the 8mm film previously used, it was a revolution.

Not only was the technology easy to use, but if offered high quality (for the time) filming capabilities at a reasonable price. This was great for the consumer, but it was also great for the fledgling porn industry which, at the time, was beginning to bubble its way to the surface.

 The low cost and ease of use contributed to what would be known as ‘The Golden Age of Porn’ which followed just 4 years after its release. Its adoption contributed to making the Super 8 Film one of the most successful developments in the history of photography.

E-Commerce

Buying things on the internet is something all of us have done at one point in time, with it being easier than ever to get things delivered straight to your door. But the framework for paying for those goods came firmly form the porn industry.

The first site to ever charge for use was ran by the soft-core actress Danni Ashe, who pioneered e-commerce on her site in the late 90s. By 2001 she was making over 8 million dollars a year, helping to pave the way for sites like PayPal and Amazon to build on it and make it securer and easier to use.

Although we may not like to think about it, we owe a lot to the risk-taking nature of the porn industry and its willingness to adopt new technology. Who knows what technologies the industry might help pioneer in our lifetimes?

By Ryan Pointon

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