The last-known company manufacturing VCRs will reportedly halt production this month, ending an era.
Funai Electric Corp., based in Osaka, Japan, blamed the decision in a statement on difficulties in acquiring components, according to PC World. Dismal sales also likely contributed.
Funai said only 750,000 VCRs (or video cassette recorders, for all you youngins) were sold worldwide in 2015. That’s down from millions in the 1980s and 1990s, when they were a staple in American households.
As the Consumer Technology Association pointed out in December, VCRs were a hot Christmas item back in 1995 ― along with camcorders and CD-ROM computer drives. VCRs were notoriously difficult to program to record TV shows, but they were easy to use with pre-recorded tapes. Most models featured clocks that mockingly flashed the wrong time, defying users’ attempts to keep them correctly set.
A decade earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported that VCR prices had finally dropped to a reasonable $200 to $400 ― down from four-figure prices after their 1975 release.
Today, retailers like Best Buy and Walmart continue to sell devices that play both DVDs and VHS tapes. For a standalone VCR, however, it appears easier to turn to places like Amazon or eBay (or your local thrift shop).
Film studios reportedly stopped producing VHS tapes back in 2006.
Variety magazine ran a tongue-in-cheek obituary for the tapes at the time: “VHS is survived by a child, DVD, and by Tivo, VOD and DirecTV. It was preceded in death by Betamax, Divx, mini-discs and laserdiscs.”
Those who still have VHS tapes may very well be sitting on a pile of cash. Just check out eBay, where copies Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” are listed for around $200.