In most of the world, camcorders, or video camera-recorders, have been a familiar sight for nearly 20 years. People take them everywhere: to school plays, sports events, family reunions and even births! When you go to a popular tourist spot, you are surrounded by them. Camcorders have really taken hold in the United States, Japan and many other countries around the world because they are an extremely useful piece of technology that you can own for under $300 (or more than $100,000).

How can such a small device do so much? Particularly for anyone born before the 1980s, it's simply amazing that quality video cameras are now readily available as consumer items, and that they're so easy to use. In this article, we'll look inside these extremely popular devices to find out what exactly is going on. We'll explore traditional analog camcorders and also look at the technology used in digital camcorders.