DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, and DVCPRO HD refer to digital videotape formats using the DV codec, and devised by Panasonic. You may also see in older Panasonic literature references to 'DVCPRO 25' and 'DVCPRO 100'. These were the original names for DVCPRO and DVCPRO HD respectively.
The numbers refer to the number of megabits per second the tape is designed to transport. DVCPRO videotape machines were introduced in 1996. The differences between DV, DVCAM, and DVCPRO are ones of track width and tape speed. Before the digitized video signal hits the tape, it is the same in all three formats.
DVCPRO was from the start intended for ENG use, as well as for industrial or 'prosumer' applications. Designers placed as higher priority better error correction and ease of analog editing. The format quickly found use in NBC's newsgathering operations, which gave the format a tremendous boost. DVCPRO videotape machines will play back DV and DVCAM tapes without an adapter. MiniDV tapes require an adapter for use in a DVCPRO machine. DVCPRO machines do not record on MiniDV tapes.
DVCPRO 50 was the follow-on format, intended to supplant DVCPRO in uses where ENG compatibility was required, but higher resolution was desired for upscaling to HDTV. DVCPRO 50 machines will play back DVCPRO tapes at the 25 Mb data rate. However, DVCPRO machines cannot play back DVCPRO 50 tapes. Panasonic achieved the higher data rate by doubling the tape transport speed.
DVCPRO HD, formerly called DVCPRO 100, couples four DV codecs in parallel to achieve a 100 Mb data rate, which is sufficient for 720p progressive scan digital video, or 1080i interlaced digital video. DVCPRO HD machines will play back any DVCPRO tape at the recorded data rate, or upconvert it to a 100 Mb data rate.
At the US National Association of Broadcasters show in 2004, Apple Computer and Panasonic announced enhancements enabling real-time DVCPRO HD non-linear editing with Apple's Final Cut Pro software in 720p or 1080i HD format.