(written from a Production point of view)
Star Trek: The Original Series has been released on VHS in multiple countries since the technology was developed.
|The Original Series • The Animated Series • Star Trek films • The Next Generation • Deep Space Nine • Voyager • Enterprise|
|Releases in the United Kingdom • Releases in the United States|
US releases Edit
In early 1980, directly pursuant the premiere of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Paramount Home Entertainment (then known as Paramount Home Video) released ten selected episodes on the new VHS and Betamax home media formats in the United States, in five volumes of two episodes each as part of their "Television Classics" collection: "The Menagerie, Part I"/"The Menagerie, Part II", "Amok Time"/"Journey to Babel", "Mirror, Mirror"/"The Tholian Web", "The Trouble with Tribbles"/"Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", and "Balance of Terror"/"The City on the Edge of Forever".   A limited release priced at US$79.99 each, it was intended as an appetizer for the in October later released The Motion Picture videotape formats, and together they are as such the earliest known official (thereby discounting any and all possible previous and illegal so-called "bootleg recordings", the Original Series "blooper reels" being a prime example, and including the prior Super 8 releases) Star Trek releases in either format, or in any home media format for that matter. A bit puzzling was, that unlike its Motion Picture releases, Paramount did not endow the Original Series releases with catalog numbers or rating indicators. 
It were these tapes that very shortly thereafter turned up as the first Star Trek productions in the VHS/Betamax rental circuit. In mid-1979, Paramount Home Video hammered out a deal with photo developer/video rental outlet Fotomat Video to release 36 titles of their backlog catalog on the new home media formats for the rental circuit, who started to do so from December 1979 onward, thereby becoming one of the very first such rental companies.  From March 1980 onward, Paramount gradually expanded the original agreement to 131 titles, and it was only after that occasion that all six available Star Trek videotape titles were added to Fotomat's rental catalog. Fotomat had the Paramount introductory logos, disclaimers and credits on the rental tapes, the ones habitually seen prior to the feature presentation, replaced with their own.  The tapes were additionally packaged in simple die-cut silver cases with black markings and the Fotomat logo on the case. The labels were black with white text. At the time a tape could be either be rented for US$12, or, at a later point in time – for those customers who had missed out on the initial chance to acquire the Paramount tapes – bought for a price in the US$40-$70 range, both rather steep for that era.  Ever since, Star Trek has been a staple in the rental circuit, until VHS tapes were phased out of existence in the early-to-mid 2000s, preceded previously by their Betamax counterparts over a decade earlier.
A special one-off release of "Space Seed" (Paramount Gateway Video VHS 60040) occurred in 1982 to tie in with the premiere of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Starting in February 1985, the complete series was finally released in groups of ten over the course of the second half of the 1980s. Both tape formats were released in near simultaneous conjuncture with the US LaserDisc format, sharing similarly designed "transporter platform" cover art, though it should be noted that the tapes were one episode per tape releases as opposed to the two episodes per disc LaserDiscs, they therefore released in groups of five.  Included were both versions of "The Cage", first with a hybrid of Gene Roddenberry's work print version and footage from "The Menagerie", along with an introduction by Roddenberry produced especially for the VHS release in 1986, and the "All-Color Collector's Edition" of the episode in 1991. The workprint version, complete with Roddenberry intro is available on Volume 40 of the original DVD releases and the TOS Season 3 DVD set. The full color version was also released in 1995 on a tape by Paramount with "Where No Man Has Gone Before", as part of a four-tape boxed set featuring the pilots for the first four series.
Paramount reissued the VHS tapes in 1993 with new packaging and collectible SkyBox International trading cards for each episode.
CBS Video Library/Columbia House also issued tapes of the series in 1986, featuring two episodes per tape. For most of the run of the library releases, the introductory volume was "The Menagerie, Part I" and "The Menagerie, Part II".
Paramount fully phased out releases of the series on VHS by the end of the 1990s-early 2000s.
|Volume||Cover||Episodes||Certificate||Release Date||Catalogue Number|
|Television Classics collection|
|Paramount Gateway Video|
|n/a||NR||July 1982||VHS 60040|
Specific episodes of The Original Series were first released by CIC-Arena Video in the early 1980s. The series in its entirety was released twice in the UK by CIC Video - a two-episode-per-tape release from 1988-1991, and a three-episode-per-tape release from 1996-1998. With the exception of a handful early tape releases by Mountain Video and EVC, typically for the rental outlet market, the UK, as had indeed the rest of Western Europe, adhered to the (at least) two episodes per tape format, as opposed to the US where the one episode per tape format was adhered to for all Star Trek television series for the better part of two decades. For American customers this became a source of chagrin when they became aware of the market discrimination, courtesy the advent of the internet in the early to mid-1990s, especially since American tape prices were at the time on par with their European counterparts.
The predominantly one episode per tape releases from Mountain Video and EVC were the earliest known VHS/Betamax releases outside the US. However, lack of any mention of the legal owner of Star Trek, Paramount Pictures (the aforementioned Fotomat, when it started to disseminate the Star Trek tapes, had Paramount emphatically stated as legal owner on its casings and tapes), as well as the fact that the cover art had all the appearances of being "fan-produced", the ones from EVC in particular, seemed to indicate that legalities surrounding copyright and licensing issues were not quite hammered out according to the rule book. This impression is further reinforced by the fact that there were titles included, Paramount itself had not selected for official release in the US, but there was a large overlap with titles as released the previous decade by Canterbury Films on Super 8, which were unlicensed. Canterbury Films had made use of a contemporary loophole in the then-applicable copyright laws when it discovered that some episodes of the Star Trek television show did not contain a copyright in the credits and released duplicates to collectors, and a similar scenario is conceivable for the earliest British releases. CIC Video, on the other hand, was co-owned by Paramount.
|Earliest UK Releases|
|Vol./Set||Cover||Episodes||Certificate||Release Date||Catalogue Number|
Where No Man Has Gone Before
Trouble with Tribbles
|N/A||May 1982||VCF 1/081|
|N/A||June 1982||VCF 1/080|
Dagger of the Mind
|N/A||June 1982||VCF 1/082|
Trouble with Tribbles
|CIC-Arena Video releases||PG||April 1983||VHL 2057|
|PG||December 1983||VHL 2075|
|Star Trek Double Bill!||PG||October 1984||VHR 2084|
Original complete releaseEdit
Release dates for the first original twenty-one releases are not known. But since these releases are based on the 1985 one episode per tape US release, as is indicated by the similar cover art, it is fair to assume that releases started sometimes thereafter, considering that foreign dissemination of American produced home media formats habitually lagged behind US distribution at the time for legal as well as practical reasons, translation being the most obvious reason in the latter case. Dates in italics are approximations based on release frequency, where no exact date is available. UK products were normally released on a Monday.
These CIC Video UK releases served from 1988 onward as the basis for not only the Original Series, but all subsequent Star Trek tape releases for the rest of Europe, with local branches of CIC Video responsible for either subtitling or dubbing in the language of the target market, as well as optionally adapting cover art to local tastes. The video casing cover art for the Netherlands and Flanders for example, were nearly indistinguishable from their UK counterparts, save for the text imprint language of the episode summaries and disclaimers on the back cover art, whereas German or Italian releases featured radically redesigned cover art.
The original CIC Video release was continuous, and did not separate out seasons. Consequently, the volume containing the final episode of a season will also have the first episode of the next season. The original releases were deleted on 29 March 1996.
|Season 1 • Season 2 • Season 3|
|Volume||Cover||Episodes||Certificate||Release Date||Catalog Number|
|22||U||2 April 1990||VHR 2357|
|23||PG||2 April 1990||VHR 2358|
|24||PG||2 April 1990||VHR 2359|
|25||U||7 May 1990||VHR 2360|
|26||U||4 June 1990||VHR 2361|
|27||U||2 July 1990||VHR 2379|
|28||U||6 August 1990||VHR 2380|
|29||U||3 September 1990||VHR 2381|
|30||PG||3 September 1990||VHR 2382|
|31||PG||3 September 1990||VHR 2383|
|32||PG||1 October 1990||VHR 2384|
|33||PG||5 November 1990||VHR 2385|
|34||PG||7 January 1991||VHR 2430|
|35||PG||7 January 1991||VHR 2431|
|36||U||7 January 1991||VHR 2432|
|37||PG||4 February 1991||VHR 2433|
|38||PG||4 February 1991||VHR 2434|
|39||PG||18 March 1991||VHR 2435|
|40||PG||18 March 1991||VHR 2436|
Each episode in the series features an introduction by either James Doohan, George Takei, or Walter Koenig. With the exception of the below-mentioned DVD/magazine partwork publication, these specially-produced introductions have not been included in any of the later home media formats and are therefore exclusive for this edition. This 1996 three episodes per tape edition – a format hitherto unheard of for the American home market – made use of new transfers of color corrected and cleaned-up footage, at the time called "digitally mastering", originally done four years earlier for the Japanese LaserDisc editions Star Trek: Log 1 - Log 3. Released at the beginning of the DVD age this edition only saw a limited production run, in anticipation of the first DVD release of the Original Series. Picture quality wise, it has been the best edition of the Original Series ever to be released on VHS, actually even outperforming the initial DVD releases of the Original Series, as explained below.
A relatively uncommon one, this particular release has seen at least one international variant. In the Netherlands and Flanders the (sub-titled) series was offered for a limited time in 1997 as three-season collector's box set editions. This entailed that the tapes were packaged in carton slipcases with otherwise unaltered cover art, they themselves collected in a box on a per season basis. The season two box set incorporated as an extra, a copy of William Shatner's Star Trek Memories, whereas the season three box contained copies of Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond and From Here to Infinity: The Ultimate Voyage – the 1994 space documentary presented by Patrick Stewart – as extra bonus. The UK tapes were packaged in the standard plastic VHS snap cases.
In the US, this version has never seen the light of day, neither in format nor in its use of the "remastered" transfers. US customers had to wait until the 2007 TOS-R Season 1 HD DVD release to enjoy for themselves improved picture quality, previous DVD releases – for all territories – having only made use of the worn-out original masters, the same ones they had already used for their VHS releases.
In the UK itself the re-release edition served as the basis for the 2007-2008 Star Trek: The Original Series - The Collector's Edition DVD/magazine partwork publication of GE Fabbri.
|Season 1 • Season 2 • Season 3|
|Vol.||Cover||Episodes||Certificate||Release Date||Catalog Number|
|1.1||U||24 June 1996||VHR 4301|
|1.2||PG||8 July 1996||VHR 4302|
|1.3||U||8 July 1996||VHR 4303|
|1.4||PG||5 August 1996||VHR 4304|
|1.5||PG||9 September 1996||VHR 4305|
|1.6||PG||7 October 1997||VHR 4306|
|1.7||PG||4 November 1996||VHR 4307|
|1.8||PG||2 December 1996||VHR 4308|
|1.9||PG||30 December 1996||VHR 4309|
|1.10||U||13 January 1997||VHR 4310|
|2.1||PG||3 February 1997||VHR 4311|
|2.2||PG||24 February 1997||VHR 4312|
|2.3||PG||10 March 1997||VHR 4313|
|2.4||U||7 April 1997||VHR 4314|
|2.5||PG||5 May 1997||VHR 4315|
|2.6||PG||2 June 1997||VHR 4316|
|2.7||U||23 June 1997||VHR 4317|
|2.8||U||21 July 1997||VHR 4318|
|2.9||PG||22 August 1997||VHR 4319|
|3.1||PG||1 September 1997||VHR 4320|
|3.2||PG||29 September 1997||VHR 4321|
|3.3||PG||6 October 1997||VHR 4322|
|3.4||PG||20 October 1997||VHR 4323|
|3.5||U||24 November 1997||VHR 4324|
|3.6||PG||5 January 1998||VHR 4325|
|3.7||PG||2 February 1998||VHR 4326|
|3.8||PG||2 March 1998||VHR 4327|
Box sets, collections, and other releasesEdit
|Vol./Set||Cover||Episodes||Certificate||Release Date||Catalog Number|
|The Cage All Colour Collectors Edition||
||U||2 July 1990||VHR 2374|
|Star Trek - The Three Beginnings||PG||31 January 1994||VHR 2827|
|Star Trek - The Four Beginnings||PG||1995|
|Star Trek - 30th Anniversary Trial Pack||No image yet.||
||15||2 January 1996|
|Star Trek: The Original Series - Tricorder Pack||PG||3 June 1996||VHR 4373|
|Star Trek - Greatest Battles||12||16 November 1998||VHR 4732|
- ↑ This release is slightly edited to present the episode in one part, rather than two parts. The credits at the end of the episode and the closing credits are removed from Part I and the opening teaser recounting the events from Part I and the regular opening sequence are removed, instead doing a quick fade-out and cut into the first act of Part II.
- ↑ One-off tie-in with the concurrently released Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan VHS, featuring the theatrical trailer at the beginning of the tape. The tape features the same transfer as utilized for its CED counterpart.
- ↑ Prior to 1985, the UK did not utilize rating certification, as legislation was only introduced in 1984. Tapes released before 1985, the so-called "pre-certification videos", that do sport ratings, were only given these after the legislation went into effect in 1985.
- ↑ This release also included a trailer for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 Originally released unrated, the volume received a rating after 1985.
- ↑ This release was the first time this episode could be seen in the UK, the BBC having banned it from its original airing in 1971 (the episode would not be seen until 5 January 1994).
- ↑ This release was the first time this episode could be seen in the UK, the BBC having banned it from its original airing in 1971 (the episode would not be seen until 19 January 1994).
- ↑ This release was the first time this episode could be seen in the UK, the BBC having banned it from its original airing in 1971 (the episode would not be seen until 22 December 1993).
- ↑ Mixed colour/black & white picture.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Curiously, the cover for this volume displays a double certificate, indicating that episodes were rated for releases separately, instead of as a single volume.
- ↑ A three episode tape to end the series. This was likely more profitable to produce and market than a single episode release.
- ↑ Two episode tape.
- ↑ In the case of sets, the certificate is over the set as a whole (unless stated otherwise).
- ↑ Released after an all-color print of the episode was uncovered.
- ↑ This rating (provided by Amazon.co.uk) appears anomalous - all four pilot episodes individually are rated no higher than PG.