R.I.P. – The world’s last VCR will be manufactured this month

Japan’s Funai Electric, which claims to be the world’s last VCR manufacturer, says it will cease production of the machines later this month.

VCRs for home use were first introduced in the 1960s, gaining traction after Sony brought lower-priced models to market. Other Japanese manufacturers, including Panasonic, RCA, JVC and Toshiba, were also instrumental in developing the VCR.
These electromechanical devices were used to record, store, and play back television programs using a magnetic tape cassette as well as provide pre-recorded movies of the day.

Somewhat late to the party, Funai started manufacturing video-cassette recorders in 1983, and at one point was selling 15 million units a year. Unfortunately, the clunky VCR has since been replaced by an array of new technologies: DVDs, Blu-ray, and now, streaming video services.

As consumers moved forward to smaller, faster and more convenient methods of satisfying their video needs, Blockbuster and other like them fell along the wayside – not able to embrace the changes in video delivery technology.
Last year, Funai sold 750,000 units, and found it was getting harder to find the parts to make VCRs. A Funai spokesperson said that customers have been calling the company and asking where they can find the last few products.
With a landmark decision in 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that home use of VCRs to record television didn’t constitute a violation of copyright law, paving the way for an explosion of the technology in American homes.
For a period of time, a battle raged between Sony’s Betamax and JVC’s VHS — both VCR tape formats of that time — but VHS eventually won out.

So now the end has finally come. I remember when VCR tapes were used as “high-end” data backup systems for the business computers of that time. I can’t tell you how happy I am that those times are in the past.

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