I remember getting a VCR on my third birthday with The Lion King cassette. I was thrilled and must have watched it a dozen times in just the first week. The 80’s and the 90’s born generation can best relate to what I am saying. Recently Japan’s company Funai Electric, claiming to be the last maker of videocassette recorders (VCRs), announced that it will be making its last VHS player this month.
The company 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. This is a sad day for vintage videophiles as the old-fashioned VCR has finally been substituted by so many new technologies: streaming online videos, Blu-ray and the oldest -DVDs.
The first Video Home System (VHS) by JVC came out in 1977, marking the beginning of VHS/Betamax configuration war. The battle ended with VHS trumping over Sony’s Betamax. For more than 20 years, VHS dominated the world of home entertainment.
In 1994, Sony released the DVD player but due to copyright concerns of Hollywood movie studios, it did not debut in U.S. until three years later. The DVDs were still expensive costing about $1,000 or more therefore, VHS was still the top configuration for video entertainment. For the first time in 2001, DVDs topped VHS sales, gathering a whopping $4.6 billion of a yearly $16.8 billion from the market. In 2006, “A History Of Violence” became the last major movie to be released in the VCR format, putting the final nail in the VHS coffin.
In the past few years, you could find some video cassettes on Amazon for free 2-day Prime shipping. You can find a variety of classic, old Disney movies (Bambi, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella etc.), the Star Wars Trilogy with original box sets and ever Pokemon: The First Movie.
Today, we have HD, Ultra HD and 3D televisions so it looks very far-fetched that we would ever revert back to VHS. But recheck those old video cassettes before throwing out, you never know some of those retro VHS titles still sell big on the secondary market.
RIP VCRs, adieu from probably the last generation that will remember you.