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Surprising Science

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

19648-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

1975Betamax 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

2006Blu-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:


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