VCR: Funai Electric, last manufacturer, halts production
Japan's Funai Electric, the world's last videocassette recorder manufacturer, will cease production by the end of July 2016. Having sold nearly 750,000 units in 2015, Funai had been finding it harder to source parts to manufacture VCRs. They began manufacturing VCRs way back in 1983; given the omnipresence of VCRs in houses the world over, hit a peak of 15 million units per year.
Ampex Electric first introduced the technology to executives at CBS News and saw them go jubilant and incredulous at instantaneous replay of a speech. The technology was considered so revolutionary that VCRs carried an obscene price tag of $50,000. For home users, VCRs became available only in the 1960s and became affordable for the majority only in 1970s when Sony and VHS entered market.
Videocassette recorders allowed you to bring the theatre into your home; but the real appeal of their popularity was making consumers independent of TV schedules. VCRs allowed you to set timers and record TV programs that you could watch at a time of your choosing.
The digital video disk (DVD) technology made its appearance around 1995. DVD players were made available for home users in 1997 and within a short span of five years, DVD sales outdid those of videocassette recorders. In less than a decade, DVD players saw their popularity beginning to wane with the advent of Blu-ray discs in 2006.
Vinyl records have seen a spectacular comeback over the last couple of years; 13 million records were sold in 2014. Experts suggest audiophiles and Indie artists appear to prefer the tone and sound of vinyl. Whether the resurgence of vinyl is a fad or is here to stay, no one knows yet. Could nostalgia lead VCR to make a comeback decades from now?
JVC and Sony were in a 'format war' over their VHS and Betamax tapes, each incompatible with the other's device. In 1980s, sales of VHS and Betamax were 10 million each but 8 years later VHS sold 200 million and Betamax stagnated at 25 million.