THE HUMBLE VCR is to go out of production later this month after the last manufacturer announced plans to pull out of production, leaving it to go the way of 8-track, Super 8 and probably lots of other things with an '8' in them.
The video cassette recorder debuted in the fifties, and the format as we know it today first launched under the Philips brand in 1970. It revolutionised television watching, allowing people to record programmes automatically and purchase or rent some reasonably recent films.
The analogue format was based on something of a roulette approach as the magnetic tape reels were often chewed up by the giant heads (that's what she said).
Funai Electric, which has been making OEM video recorders for years, most recently for Sanyo, confirmed yesterday that it will cease production after sales last year slumped to just 750,000. And, yes, that sounds quite high to us as well.
Believe it or not, it was just 12 years ago in 2004 that Dixons (now Currys-PC World) announced that it was to stop sales of VCRs after the rise of DVD, then Blu-ray (via HD-DVD) and Sky+ and, most recently, streaming services.
The VCR has very little to recommend it these days. The picture quality is lousy, people often got hernias or brain aneurysms trying to program them, and there is no functionality that can't be done better through another method.
So we can expect the VCR to slip away into the annals of history, save for the specialist market in transferring rare recordings and home movies over to newer digital formats. Admit it, you've been meaning to do it for years.
As ever with obsolete formats, there are fans and the trade in rare VHS-only films can see individual grindhouse and horror titles changing hands for over £1,000, even though they look like crud. µ
Though it's not exactly an even playing field
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