Japan waves goodbye to the VCR

For most of us, VHS died at some point between 2000 and 2005, when “special features” on a DVD went from “theatrical trailer” and “scene selection” to being a whole host of nerdy extras. But if you want something to play your vast library of video cassettes on, you’ll have to act fast, because the last ever Japanese VCR players will be manufactured this month.

Japan waves goodbye to the VCR

This may come as a shock to you, if you’d just assumed that this had happened at some point over the past decade when people stopped buying VHS players, but apparently not. In fact, Funai Electric has stubbornly continued to manufacture them under brands such as Sanyo, selling as many as 750,000 units last year. That’s probably 750,000 more than you’d think they sold, but at their peak they were shifting 15 million a year, so that’s an unsustainable fall.

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That number is shrinking fast, and the parts are becoming harder to come by, so the company will end production this month, according to Japanese financial paper Nikkei. They had been making VCRs since 1983.last_ever_vhs_players_to_be_made_in_japan

That means that for around a third of the time the company has been making them, VCR has been classed as dead technology. This might seem like bloody-mindedness, until you consider that Sony continued to make Betamax players until 2002, and only stopped making Betamax tapes last year. Given the VCR took on the Betamax and won back in the 1980s, that’s pretty strong support for the product.

I’ve just looked around, and it doesn’t seem to be possible to buy an HD-DVD player anymore. These modern companies, eh? They just don’t have the stamina for a 30-year sales war…

Images: Bill Smith and Comedynose used under Creative Commons

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