It truly is the end of an era. The once iconic VCR is about to be no more as the final machines go into production this month, ending the VHS format's 40 year run. Funai Electric, a Japanese consumer electronics company, are the last to manufacture the machine, and they have announced that they will cease making them at the end of July.
Perhaps you don't immediately recognize the name Funai. They began marketing and selling VCRs under the more familiar Sanyo brand in China and the U.S. over 30 years ago. The move to end manufacturing on the VCR machine comes amidst declining sales and a difficulty to obtain parts needed to keep the machines on the production line. There has been a serious lack of materials for the electronics device over the past few years.
Funai Electric attempted to launch its own competing format called CVC in 1980, but was unsuccessful, and changed over to VCR production in 1983. During its peak run of production on the machine, it would sell as many as 15 million VCRs per year. Last year, Funai Electric only managed to sell 750,000 units.
While Sony launched competitor Betamax in 1975, it was VHS that became the go-to format. Hollywood was quick to embrace the VHS VCR and studios began releasing their movies on videocassettes that were available to rent throughout the 80s and 90s in various chains, such as Blockbuster and Mom and Pop shops that sprung up all across the country. The VCR gained in popularity quickly, being the first technology that allowed the consumer the ability to program on their own schedules, recording TV shows and movies directly off the TV.
It was only last year that Sony ceased production on Betamax video cassettes. The company had stopped producing Betamax machines way back in 2002. First emerging in the late 90s, over the past two decades, DVDs and Blu-rays increased in popularity, making both VHS and Beta obsolete. Though, there has been a nostalgia boom for VHS in the last couple of years. And a select handful of studios have released certain collector titles on VHS. This weekend, a limited number of Deadpool VHS tapes are being made available at Comic-Con. Though the final VRCs are going into production this month, the VHS tape is still being manufactured by several companies. But the end of production for the VHS cassette can't be far behind.