The VCR Says Sayonara As Last Japanese Manufacturer Ends Production

It was a darn good run for VCRs, but if they weren't considered obsolete before, they soon will be. Funai Electronics, the last manufacturer of VCR hardware, announced that it's ceasing production of video tape recorders at the end of the month, as parts are increasingly difficult to come by for a machine that no longer is in strong demand.

Of course, that wasn't always the case. Though Funai only sold around 750,000 VCRs in 2015, during the technology's heyday Funai was selling up to 15 million units. While not ancient history, VCRs once were commonplace in households (your parents might still own one), supplanting Sony's Betamax as the format of choice among home consumers.

Funai VCR

JVC introduced the VHS format in Japan back in 1976. It quickly won favor for having a long recording time compared to Betamax and remained popular up through the late 1990s. One of my earlier jobs was as an assistant manager at a mom and pop video rental store and even towards the end of the 1990s, VHS tapes dominated the scene.

DVDs would eventually replace VHS tapes as the format of choice, and these days it's all about streaming flicks from the Internet. However, all subsequent formats owe a tip of the hat to the VCR and VHS tapes for kickstarting the home entertainment market. Just as consumers once rented VHS tapes and were able to watch them on their own schedule, so it goes with streaming media.

You may still own a large collection of VHS tapes. If so, you may want to consider picking up a cheap VCR while you still can, or better yet a VCR-to-DVD combo player that's capable of transferring your tapes to DVD.