July 24th, 2016, 17:07 PM
RIP VHS: World's Last VCR Will Be Made This Month
Be warned, vintage videophiles: Japan’s Funai Electric, a company that claims to be the last manufacturer of videocassette recorders (VCRs), will manufacture its last VHS player this month.
Funai, which manufacturers the VCRs in China for Sanyo, says the decision comes after selling only 750,000 units last year, down from a peak of 15 million units per year. The decreased production numbers have made parts costly and difficult to source, the company says.
JVC’s VHS configuration debuted in 1977, sparking the VHS/Betamax configuration war. VHS trumped Betamax, which debuted in 1975, thanks in large part to its embracing of the X-Rated market; Sony banned the adult industry from releasing movies on its configuration, leading many consumers—who didn’t want to purchase two different devices—to choose VHS. A decade later, in 1987, VHS controlled 90% of the $5.25 billion VCR market. (Last year, Sony announced it would finally stop selling its blank Betamax cassette tapes.)
VHS ruled the home entertainment world for more than two decades. Sony created the DVD player in 1994, but the technology did not debut in the U.S. until 1997, due in larger part to copyright concerns from major movie studios. With early DVD players retailing for $1,000 or more, VHS remained the top configuration in the United States into the new millennium.
In 2001, retail DVDs topped VHS sales for the first time, capturing $4.6 billion of an annual $16.8 billion buying-and-rental market. However, only 25% of homes owning DVD players in 2001, and VHS remained the top rental configuration until mid-2003. The final nail in the VHS coffin came in 2oo6, when A History Of Violence became the final major Hollywood movie was released in the format.