You might think the birth of cinema was what revolutionized image and video technologies to advance to what they are today, but a big player in that that often gets left out of the conversation is the adult industry. Ever since, Le Coucher de la Marie, what is known as the first pornographic film came out in France, people wanted more and more of a naked woman on camera, leading to new developments in image and video compression. As porn continued to thrive as a business, it became an industry leader in what technologies would be adopted for viewing video and images, as well as taking them, and could be responsible for much of the tech we have today.
As such, porn will continue to be applied to the new advancements in video and imaging, even if they’re not intended for its use because the adult industry will always find a way to take advantage of the latest tech for its customers.
Super 8 Film
Before there were 4K cameras capturing your porn, there were Super 8 cameras that shot on 8 mm film recording women undressing and posing for the camera. Porn films got their start in mass production in 1958 when Harrison Mark began shooting these short films called “glamour home movies.” People realized the ease of being able to record and view explicit films like these and sales of Super 8 cameras rose. It was a cheap camera at the time, noncomplex to use, and highly convenient. With the increase in sales and its accessibility and convenience, Super 8 became standardized and was adopted in the porn industry for shooting films.
Many believe that Bollywood and Hollywood movies gave rise to the popularity of VHS tapes, but there’s a reason you used to find so many adult video stores on the corner of every street. That’s because porn videos, who used to be on cassettes under Betamax format (which they also made popular), caused VHS format to win over Betamax in the late ’80s since porn producers chose to go with this format. Prior to this, when VCR format was first introduced, Hollywood wasn’t convinced to make the switch and release films on the format for fear of piracy, but porn decided to take the format and use it as a way to exploit the market and distribute more porn films.
The reason why pornographers preferred VHS over Betamax was that it could hold more footage, up to three hours, and it gave viewers the option to view pornography in the comfort of their own home, behind closed doors. Clearly, this was something all pornography viewers wanted, and these viewers were some of the earliest to adopt VHS technology and were responsible for the rise of VHS to the mainstream. By the end of the ’70s, more than 50% of all videotape sales in the United States.
Similar to how porn helped push out Betamax video format to VHS, another situation like this came about in the fight between HD DVD and Blu-Ray. When VHS format died out, the porn industry was looking for something new to display high-definition video of their films. At the time, there were two options: HD DVD and a new technology called Blu-Ray, which was a high-definition optical disk that held more information than HD DVD. Because of that fact, pornographers adopted Blu-Ray to distribute their films as they could put more content on them. The victory of Blu-Ray over HD DVD happened when the porn industry chose the former as their standard for high-definition video format.
From VHS and Blu-Ray, porn moved onto its biggest platform yet – streaming video. The age of the Internet brought you websites like PornHub, RedTube, YouPorn, Brazzers, etc., and with it, a new adoption of technology for porn to thrive on. It’s estimated that 30% of content on the Internet is porn, with over 4.2 million pornographic websites in the U.S. alone, and they attract more users in a month than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined. Dutch porn company Red Light District was the first to develop a workable Internet-based video streaming system back in 1994. They were pioneers in online video streaming and are the reason why porn sites are so big now and provided the framework for streaming as we know it today.
Another technology adoption that prevailed thanks to the porn industry was webcam technology. Before sites like AOL, Skype, and other webcam-dependent services launched, porn sites were the only places available for real-time interaction over the Internet. Webcams were primarily used for live sex shows that people could watch at home, and one of the first “soft-core” and amateur porn site using a webcam that drove the technology to popularity was Dani Ashes’ site “Danni’s Hard Drive.” Her website, launched in 1995, was revolutionary for its time because, after just 6 years, the site was estimated to be worth over 30 million dollars, and it caused for amateur porn sites to take off online, which utilized webcams.
Another example of how the adult industry used webcams before they became standard and mainstream is with the site Adult Friend Finder. Most people associate webcams with AOL and other chat services as the reason for its popularity, but AFF actually put out a video and messenger feature on their site before AOL’s IM chat.
While some people are skeptical about porn’s influence on speeding VR technology adoption by the masses, there’s no doubt that there is a market and a very strong possibility for it. The porn industry has been one of the most prominent figures in VR technology building, and it hs a pretty good start already. Sites like BadoinkVR.com and a growing number of others just like it, is home to 180-degree and 360-degree VR porn. Sex toys and stimulators that are connected to smartphones are also becoming synchronized with VR gasses. Those in the porn industry are looking to VR to become one of its strongest market players within the next two years, and with VR headsets and glasses becoming more readily available and affordable, it seems like a very likely possibility.