For many Millennials who grew up in the 1990s and would often make a weekly trip to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to pick up the latest home video release for leisurely consumption in one’s living room, the videocassette recorder (a device more popularly known by the colloquial acronym VCR) was a constant fixture of most people’s movie viewing habits. Before slimly manufactured DVDs overtook the home video medium previously dominated by bulky VHS tapes, the VCR was the standard means for watching movies from the comfort and privacy of your living room couch.
Since the heyday of the VCR, DVD players have already come and gone, and both audio-visual repositories have been largely replaced by the likes of the Blu-ray and the DVR. And yet the VCR has surprisingly continued existing despite the fact that most movie viewers have abandoned its respectively outdated technology for shinier products compatible with high-definition flat screens. Nevertheless, it seems the VCR is now facing its final days on store shelves at last.
According to Variety, Funai Electric (the chief manufacturer of VCRs for since 1983) has officially announced that it will cease production of the formerly in demand home video equipment by the end of July 2016. At its peak sales average, Funai at one time sold over 15 million VCR units per year. In 2015, the company only moved 750,000 units total.
Like Funai, Sony stopped production on its like-minded Betamax video cassettes (a rival to the VHS tape) last year, thus cementing the domination of DVDs, Blu-rays, and DVRs in the contemporary home video market. After Funai phases out production on its VCR players, movie viewers will finally be forced to say goodbye to the once dominant audio-visual device for good, no matter how much one might hold some nostalgia for the technological relic in question.
It’s bizarre to think that VCRs will soon be a thing definitively of the past for those of us who still remember the heyday of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, though it makes perfect business sense to stop producing a product that no one has much use for in the current day and age of digital media. VCRs will soon become as strange a footnote in the annals of consumer-based technology as the historically-equivalent Boombox and the Walkman – though it’s unlikely that many of today’s younger movie viewers even know what a VCR is at this point in time.