Funai Electric, a Japanese consumer electronics company, will end production of VHS videocassette recorders (VCRs) at the end of July, according to Japanese newspaper Nikkei. This will also mark the end of the format as a whole 40 years after it began production.
Funai sold VCRs under the more familiar Sanyo brand in China and North America for nearly 30 years. The company’s move to stop manufacturing comes after years of declining sales and difficulty finding the materials for the electronics.
Funai Electric began production of VCRs in 1983 following the unsuccessful launch of its own CVC format in 1980. The electronics company sold as many as 15 million VCRs per year at its peak. Last year, Funai sold 750,000 units.
I was going to say, “If you’re over 30, this should bring a wave of nostalgia over you,” but then I realized that my 18-year-old daughter spent her early video years watching a lot of VHS movies on the VCR. That’s how quickly things are changing.
I’m old enough to remember when the VCR was THE GREATEST NEW THING EVER. When I was a very young man living with two of my best friends, one of them won a VCR at the company holiday party. Our humble little apartment then became an entertainment dream. All that with a machine that today’s youth would look at like a car that one needed to crank to start.
The VCR launched an incredibly, if ultimately fleeting, profitable industry. Blockbuster Video became a weekend destination for families, couples on dates, and even had a college bowl game named after it for a while.
Before Blockbuster, there were small mom and pop shop video stores. When Blockbuster showed up, it looked like a behemoth that could never be stopped. No one thought that within twenty years of its heyday, it would almost completely cease to exist.
The progression in home video technology since then has been nothing short of amazing. From VCRs to Video Discs (remember those?) to DVDs, Blu-ray and streaming video, an entertainment form once relegated to large venues has become ever more accessible and better to watch.
Streaming video is now leading to a revolution in entertainment that is poised to dismantle the cable television model and personalize entertainment even more.
All of this entertainment we expect to enjoy at home now is possible because of the humble VCR.
Well, I don’t know if it’s actually humble. I wouldn’t be if I’d started something that big.