How Porn Changed Technology

By Playboy.com Staff

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<p>Ever wondered how Porn has aided in technological advances throughout the years? Read on!<br></p>


There have been a lot of ways porn has altered our lives, but did you know that the industry has played a pivotal role in the development of technology dating back to the printing press? That’s right; just because everyone was walking around in petticoats and top hats doesn’t mean they were thinking about sex any less. In fact, in 1524 a man was jailed by the pope after publishing 16 sex engravings.  Then there were the VHS and Betamax wars, credit card transactions over the internet, video streaming…We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning.

19th Century

Thanks to museums, tomb raiders and archeologists, porn has been around forever. But the 19th century was a big time for the commercial stuff. As printing costs became attainable for the masses, the obvious shift moved from highbrow literature and propaganda sheets to the good smutty stuff. By 1837 there were pornography shops in London, and in 1871 New York was selling more than 100 porn books a year. That’s a pretty high number for people who couldn’t really read. In a way, porn aided in making the lower class more literate! Imagine that.

Then came the good stuff: photos! As soon as Louis Daguerre (the father of photography) sold the rights of his patented equipment to the French government, people wondered, “what if I took a photo of my friends having sex so I can look at it later?” With this, modern day porn was born. For a while daguerreotypes (old-timey photos) couldn’t be mass-produced or copied, so people had to pass them around. As soon as glass plate negatives were produced, though, we were right as rain and pornography became huge.

By 1852, 40 percent of photos registered for sale in Paris were nudes. After film was invented it only took six years for the first porn film, Le Coucher de la Mariée, to be produced. It got so bad that people tried to actually outlaw the stuff by implementing obscenity laws. Obviously that didn’t stick.

20th Century

With the 20th century came men’s magazines, full-blown porno films, Deep Throat, centerfolds and, of course, Hugh Hefner. There were a lot of technological advances too, including the VCR, which according to writer John Heindry was “the most significant event in adult-film history and, along with Deep Throat, the impetus for a revolution in hard-core pornography.” Until the end of the ’70s, porn accounted for about half of the VHS sales in the U.S., driving demand for VCRs, which at that point were going for about $800, steadily.

What’s interesting about this venture was that when it came to the format war between VHS and Betamax, VHS won because Sony refused pornographic content to be sold on Betamax tapes whereas JVC and the VHS group had no problems with it. The consumers spoke and Betamax was cast to the bowels of your parents’ basement.

Another interesting note, which is unfathomable now that we can get free porn whenever we feel like it, is the fact that in the ’80s most pay-per view porn was only available in hotels. Obviously, budding industry took no time to cross over to home viewing, which ultimately made pay-per-view revenues rocket from a mere $54 million in ’92 to a whopping $367 million in 1999 thanks to porn and what we assume was wrestling.

So now porn was easily accessible in our homes through books, photographs, videos and television. It was only a short time before the internet would be a key player in the industry, but for a few years in the ’90s the camcorder was letting couples create their own porn films to sell, which apparently accounted for about 30 percent of adult video rentals and sales in the U.S. in 1991. Companies were even marketing digital cameras to the droves of people that were too embarrassed to bring their film to their local pharmacy to get developed.

Are you noticing a trend? As soon as a technology becomes accessible financially, we’re going to make porn with it and make that thing make a lot of money.

Then came the behemoth that would change our way of viewing of porn forever: the internet. Porn actually had a hand in altering a lot of things online, like online payments (think PayPal and Amazon). In the early years of the internet, porn sites were toying with the idea of online subscriptions and credit card transactions long before anyone else. They also were one of the first to use streaming content. In an interview with NPR, porn star and creator of adult website Danni’s Hard Drive Danni Ashe noted, “the adult entertainment industry was the first to use streaming JPEG push video, which was video that worked…in the browser and didn’t require a plug-in. I think as an industry we tend to jump in a little bit faster and tweak the technology and try to get it to work faster.”

There have been many more advancements in technology porn has aided in, like live chat, 3G and spam, but these are definitely the crowning jewels of what porn has done for us. All hail porn!


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