Goodbye VHS, world’s last VCR manufacturer to stop production

There is sad news for all those vintage videophiles out there. Japan’s Funai Electric, a company that claims to be the last manufacturer of videocassette recorders (VCRs), will manufacture its last batch of VCR units by July 30.

The company also said that the decision was made after selling only 750,000 VHS pieces last year, which is a considerable decrease from 15 million pieces sold per year. Due to decreased production of VCRs, the parts for manufacturing have become rare and costly. Over the years, with the rise of DVDs, Blu-ray and streaming services like Netflix, the old-fashioned VCR have become completely obsolete.

In 1983, Funai Electric was the first company to come up with a VCR for compact video cassettes (CVC). These were portable recorders that could be attached to cameras, and were widely used in the broadcasting industry, especially in Japan. The technology developed for the CVC led to the creation of the Video Home System (VHS) format, representing the beginnings of the home entertainment revolution. It became the main format for consumption of video at home across the world.

Consumers for the first time could watch movies at home, whenever they wanted to. They also could tape and watch television shows, freeing them from the schedule of the networks and allowing them to fast-forward through commercials. The VHS tapes allowed viewers to break with the restraints of media gate keepers, laying the foundation for today’s streaming media.

For more than two decades, the home entertainment world was ruled by the VHS. In 1994, Sony created the DVD player, but the technology was not launched in the U.S. until 1997, due to major concerns related to copyright from major movie studios. With early DVD players retailing for $1,000 or more, VHS remained the top configuration in the U.S. into the new millennium.

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