Porn: the pioneer of tech advances

You may not realize it, but the adult entertainment industry -- love it or hate it -- has been the driving force behind some of the most common technological advances, everything from movies on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray, to on line credit card payments.

"The Triple-X-Men" is a porn parody by Vivid Entertainment, the production and distribution company Steve Hirsch founded in 1984. During his 30 years as a major player in the multibillion-dollar industry, Hirsch has been on the cutting edge of tech innovations that later became mainstream, such as the VCR.

Flashback to the 1970s and the invention of the Betamax tape deck by Sony: for the first time, you could watch an adult film in the privacy of your own home.

The growing accessibility of the Internet was a game changer.

"The pornography industry was the first one to really use streaming .jpeg push video, where you didn't have to open it in a new application. You could just open up a video within the browser," says Professor Bryant Paul. "They were the first to really embrace that technology and flash technology early on, and the folks that weren't making flash weren't necessarily thrilled with it."

The Internet gave birth to VOD, or Video On Demand, which became the basis for services like Hulu and Netflix. But before that could happen, they had to work out how to pay for it.

Colin Rowntree is the president of Wasteland Entertainment, one of the Internet's premier specialty sites, says the porn industry needed technology to support the infrastructure of porn distribution but there was none out there. So he says the pioneers streaming video, digital video technology, and video chat online.

Jeremy Glass of Supercompressor and Thrillist says online payment with a credit card was a big step in porn. He says the adult industry developed systems for fraud control, making it safer to use credit cards on the internet.

Professor Paul says companies like Amazon, Ebay, and others owe a debt of gratitude to the porn industry for figuring out how to make money online.

The technological advances show no sign of slowing down. The experts predict the future will include whatever makes the experience more real, like haptics, the technology in your console game controller and the touch vibration on your smartphone, basically the sense of touch.

Glass says "augmented reality" is going to be big thing.

The rapidly advancing technology comes with some risks. Adult film makers are regulated by a patchwork of state laws. Federal laws are mostly concerned with child pornography.

Porn producers say they consider child pornography to be criminal behavior and not a part of their industry.

Former prosecutor Xavier Donaldson says the law can barely keep up with new technology. He says every few months a new court interprets what qualifies as obscenity as it relates to pornography.

No what the changes, the adult entertainment plans to stay on the cutting edge of what's new and what delivers.

Hirsch says the adult industry pushes technology along.

We reached out to the mainstream companies featured in this fox doc. Only Netflix responded by saying "no comment." But Netflix wanted to make sure we pointed out that it does not stream porn.