Japan – The last company that fabricated VCRs has decided to stop and finally signing an end to the video cassette recorder, after 60 years in use.
The video cassette recorder, commonly known as VCR is a device that records analog video and audio from television channels. The VCR uses a removable, magnetic tape videocassette.
The VCR reached its peak in the eighties and until mid-nineties. Then, DVD appeared, and the VCR lost its popularity.
But the VCR wasn’t actually dead. It turns out the Japan-based Funai Electronic Company has continued to create the devices. At least until this month, when the executives have chosen to stop the production, due lack of demand and difficulty acquiring parts.
With the evolution of the DVD, citizens can increasingly watch TV programs on their schedule.
“If you were to chart this as a family tree, you would put the VCR at the top, and you would see all of these things sprouting out of it,” said Pete Putman, consultant to digital display companies.
There is not a consensus regarding the origins of the VCR. Video recording technology itself dates to the twenties, and the company Ampex is credited with developing the first commercially viable videotape recorder in 1956, the device was expensive and bulky, not designed for homes but professional broadcasters.
Then, a sudden variety of home video recorders from Phillips, Telcan and Sony came to market over the next two decades, until it reached its peak in the eighties and nineties when the number of households with the machine went up from 14 percent in 1985 to 66 percent in 1990.
According to Nielsen data, VCR penetration peaked at about 90 percent of households in 2005.
People soon started sharing the earlier and most expensive VHS tapes in a rent-for-use scheme. This would then lead to the giant of mass communication that was Blockbuster. In 1984, the United States Supreme Court ruled that recording TV shows for home use were not copyright infringement.
That’s when the movie industry found out that if a title had a bad reception in cinema, it could find a second commercial life on TV.
“It became a cash cow for them and generated lots and lots of revenue […] and then it slowly began to disappear, and the DVD supplanted it,” according to Samuel Craig, director of the entertainment, media, and technology program at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Other outdated technologies have a small cult of nostalgics, such as vinyl disks and Polaroid cameras, but the VCR did not have the same luck. It could be because the device offers no advantages when compared to the newest technology, or the fact that is not as aesthetically pleasing as other vintage technologies, like old phonographs.
A Trip to Memory Lane
With the rapid advance of technologies, many things have disappeared during the XXI Century, including Palm Pilots, floppy disks, dial-up the internet, getting the film developed, landlines, paper maps, public phones, phone books, long distance charges, dictionaries, fax machines, CDs, and real-life mail. Nowadays, who knows what humanity will regard as “obsolete technology” in the next century?
Source: Washington Post