George Atkinson passes away

Most deaths announced here are in celebration of movie stars or legendary directors. But George Atkinson – even for those who never heard of him – is just as responsible for the state of the movies today.

In 1977, it was Atkinson who first decided to buy up a collection of VHS and Betamax tapes, take out an ad in the L.A. Times, and sell memberships to his store where members could rent tapes for $10 a night. Despite the alarm this initially caused studios, everyone came to embrace the paradigm which now extends to 24,000 rental stores across the country.

Atkinson died Thursday in Los Angeles. So next time you rent a video, you can thank George.

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