JVC Ends VCR Production
By James Grahame
JVC -- the last manufacturer of standalone VHS video cassette recorders -- has ceased production, essentially bringing the curtain down on the videotape era. Since the format's arrival in 1976, almost 1 billion VCRs have been produced worldwide and one in twenty was a JVC unit. All is not lost, since the format is expected to live on in a variety of dodgy combo units that cram DVD playback and recording functionality alongside a monstrous tape slot.
I have mixed feelings about all this. I have only purchased one VCR in my life -- a Toshiba unit with digital audio capability (and a light pen!) that set me back the princely sum of $1000 in 1987. I was a teenager at the time and couldn't fathom anything more sophisticated ever hitting the market. That machine has performed flawlessly for over two decades, and my six-year-old still uses it to watch a seemingly endless stream of Pokemon videos. Heck, I still use it for time shifting with my satellite receiver. The quality isn't nearly as good as a Tivo, but there are no onerous monthly charges and it works just fine.
Our biggest fear at Retro Thing HQ is that the disappearance of the VCR moves us one step closer to a world without a record button, where content is doled out in $1 increments. Say what you will about the quality of VHS tapes, but at least they could be resold and lent to friends. The same can't be said for iTunes.