Tech Insider readers who were born before the late 1990s have plenty of memories, both positive and negative, of VHS tapes. The big, cumbersome plastic cases took up tons of shelf space and you always needed to be kind and rewind the tapes you rented from the local video store.
Also, it’s still the best way to officially own the original theatrical cuts of the first three “Star Wars” movies!
Well, there’s bad news for the few of you who still had any interest in buying a new VCR for some reason: Funai Electric, a Japanese company that was the last bastion of VCR production, is turning off the assembly line by the end of July.
The decidedly not-shocking news comes after Funai reported sales of just 750,000 VCR units last year, after selling 15 million on an annual basis at its peak.
I know what you’re thinking: Almost a million people bought VCRs in 2015? That’s pretty surprising, but there is a collector’s market for these things.
Aside from the low sales, Funai also cited difficulty in acquiring the right parts to produce VCRs in a profitable manner. This is normal with technology, as devices become obsolete, making the specific parts required for their production increasingly difficult and expensive to produce.
In all likelihood, you probably didn’t know anyone was still making VCRs, so Funai shutting down production isn’t major news for most people. On the other hand, it more or less signals the death of a media format that dominated home entertainment for decades; as VHS dies, it takes VHS-exclusive versions of movies like “Star Wars” with it.
Whether it’s “Star Wars” or obscure, schlocky horror movies that can’t be found elsewhere, they’re part of cinematic history and the death of VHS without proper archival is a bit sad.