Be Kind, Rewind: A Look Back at the VCR

RIP VIDEOCASSETTE RECORDER (1976-2016)

BE KIND, REWIND

The news about Japan’s Funai Electronics hitting eject on the manufacturing of the VCR, the first heavyweight champion of home entertainment industry, will likely surprise most of us. Funai, despite reporting sales of 750,000 VCRs in 2015, announced that the final VCR will roll off the production line in August 2016. According to press releases, Funai cites high manufacturing costs and difficulty of acquiring components as the primary reasons behind the decision. Let’s take a look back at some of the history defining moments in the incredible 40-year career of this titan of industry.

vtr56
Exciting times!

1956: VIDEO KILLED THE TELEVISION STAR

Soon after the advent of TV, research into video storage media began. The Video Tape Recorder (VTR), sporting an hefty $50,000 price tag in 1956 dollars (almost $450,000 adjusted to 2016 dollars), utilized magnetic tape technology and were only available to television networks.

1976: THE BIRTH OF A GIANT

The first home VCRs were almost the size of a Redbox, cost a cool $1280 (over $5,000 today), featured an industry-leading two-hour recording limit, and an impossible to program digital clock that to this day remains blinking at 12:00.

first vcr
Worth it.

1977: WHAT’S A CASSETTE TAPE?

Magnetic Video, a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox (which was busy with a certain Star Wars film in 1977), released the classics The Sound of Music, Patton, and M*A*S*H with an MSRP of $50-$70 each to members of their video club.

1985: A TEXAS TORNADO

Blockbuster video opened in Dallas, Texas on October 19th, 1985. The shiny chain megastore was the Wal-Mart of the video-rental world, wiping out mom-and-pop video stores across the country. Blockbuster featured over 8,000 titles, a computerized rental system, and a rental card screening process that would even make Dallas’ favorite daughter Debbie blush.

blockbuster
RIP, my old friend.

2013: IS THIS THE END?

Blockbuster, after grossly miscalculating the success of streaming video services and self-serve video kiosks, rents its final movie on November 9th, titled ironically enough, This Is The End, a 2013 apocalyptic comedy starring James Franco and his friends.

2016: FREDDY GETS FINGERED

Tom Green’s 5-time Razzie winner, Freddy Got Fingered, also earned a North Carolina man a court date after he was arrested in March while taking his daughter to school for an outstanding 2001 warrant for failure to return the movie rental Freddy Got Fingered.

Time may be running out on the VCR, but the memories and legacy of the technology is not lost on this cinephile. Do you still own VCRs? Brave enough to tell us which ones? Confess in the comment section below!

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