Rumors of the VCR’s death are, unfortunately, true. As of this month, the trusty video format is dead, after the last known manufacturer will stop making them. Japan’s Funai Corporation, which claims to be the last VCR maker, released a statement Thursday saying that it was winding up production.
In many ways, the writing’s been on the wall for a while. DVDs have been around since 1995, and quickly became the standard hard-copy format for video in the past 20 years. In between the DVD’s launch and the last VHS player, though, we’ve had HD-DVD, Blu-ray, ultra high-definition Blu-ray, and discless Netflix streaming. Throughout all of these, VCRs survived, somehow.
The tape-based format now joins a long list other departed technology that stubbornly hung on for years after they became outdated. Sony only stopped selling Betamax tapes in March 2016. Despite famously losing a format war with VHS, Betamax remained popular in native Japan and contributed to its longevity.
The players themselves still go for a hefty sum on Amazon, with even a used Panasonic 4-Head Hi-Fi VCR going for just under $100. With the last maker out of the game, the second hand sellers will now be the only option for parents who want their kids to relive the magic of Bambi as they remember it: wobbly sound, slightly distorted colors and the need to rewind at the end. Just like Disney intended.
The last VCR maker may have given up shop, but it seems there’s still a market for old tapes. It’s been over 20 years since the launch of the DVD, but VCR has shown itself to be the format that wouldn’t go down without a fight.