In Japan, Last VCR Manufacturer to Stop Production

The last Japanese manufacturer of VCRs stop production, marking the end of a technological era.

If you were upset at the demise of Blockbuster, you probably suspected this day would come. In July, the last Japanese VCR manufacturer will stop making Video Cassette Recorders (the beloved VCRs). Funai Electric was the holdout maker of the recording device, first introduced in 1970. 

According to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei, the company cited declining sales, which hit 750,000 units last year, as well as problems in finding parts as the reasons for shutting down VCR production.

If you have some some VHS tapes around, you might want to hold onto them as they are already becoming collector’s items. Classic tapes are going for thousands of dollars and the trend is sure to continue as we get further removed from their historical demise. 

Here’s a timeline of some of the major technological transitions in home recording:

1948 - LP vinyl records introduced by Columbia Records

1963 - Phillips makes first cassette tape

1963 - first home video recorder introduced by Telcan

1964 - 8-track tape introduced

1965 - super 8 film released

1966 - first album on cassette tape

1970 - Philips creates first VCR (video cassette recorder)

1970s (early) - first in-car cassette decks

1975 - Betamax introduced

1980 - VHS wins over Betamax and controls most of the market

1970s (late) - 8-track tapes lose popularity

1975 - VCRs gain popularity

1979 - Sony’s Walkman comes out

1982 - compact discs (CDs) commercially released

1988 - last major 8-track release (Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits)

1990s (early) - CDs start outselling vinyl records

1995 - first DVDs come out

1998 - first MP3 player comes out from Eiger Labs

2001 - major U.S. music companies discontinue production of cassette tapes

2002 - Sony stops production of Betamax tape recorders

2006 - Blu-ray discs released

2008 - last production of pre-recorded VHS tapes in North America

2010 - Sony stops manufacturing the Walkman

2015 - only 24% of music bought in US is on physical media (like CDs)

2016 - Funai stops manufacturing the last VCR recorder

And here are a few nostalgic images of the obsolete tech of your life:

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less