This Month Will See the Last VCR Ever | A Lamentation
A Japanese company named Funai Electric was, even at this late date, making VCRs for mass consumption. To explain the abbreviation to younger readers, VCR stands for video cassette recorder, and it was the primary form of film and video consumption in most people’s homes for decades. There was once a booming industry of VCR sales, and owning a really nice VCR was a sure sign of affluence. With the inception of DVDs, however, the sales of VCRs and their corresponding VHS cassettes (VHS = video home system) plummeted. Blu-rays ate into DVDs, and push-button on-demand home streaming services have eaten into it all.
Check Out: Blockbuster Video is Dead
But VHS has remained, even to this day, a hot ticket collectors item among Gen-Xers who remember the glory days. There was something magical about owning a movie on VHS. The large, square aesthetic and gloriously clunky machinery seemed like a puzzle to unlock. Much has been made of the death of video stores, and many obituaries were written when, in 2014, Blockbuster Video closed its doors. On the front of video stores, a few specialty shops remain. Very, very few specialize in VHS any longer.
So it is with a lamenting heart that we see the final VCR to roll off the assembly line this month. Funai Electric, as announced by Mental Floss, will cease production of VCRs this month due to low sales. Funai makes their VCRs in China, and distributes them worldwide. In the U.S., their machines can be purchased under the Sanyo brand. VHS tapes ceased wholesale manufacture back in 2008.
Thanks to collectors and hipsters and enthusiasts of the technology, VHS tapes are still available on the second-hand market (often for very high prices), and some specialty video distributors (like Anchor Bay’s subsidiary Video Treasures) still make small batches of new VHS tapes of their revived genre films. But if you want a VCR to play them on, you will have to delve into the vast, expansive, and scary world of technology specialists. Because trekking down to your local drugstore to pick up a new machine will soon be a thing of the distant past.
This final death of VHS is sad, but the final VCR in the world is the last, sad whimper of a technology that has been dying a slow death for over a decade. Fans of the format are legion, but we have no other recourse than to mourn. And to take care of our old tapes.
Top Image: Miramax
Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and the co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon. He also contributes to Legion of Leia and to Blumhouse. You can follow him on “The Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.