The final nail in the coffin of VHS has arrived. In other news, some people were still using VHS! Per Mental Floss (via ScreenCrush), the last remaining Japanese company to manufacture VCRs, Funai Electric, has announced that it will make its final VCR units this month, bringing an end to the first widespread home video format.
The first VCR (“Videocassette recorder” for you young ‘uns) to use VHS was released in 1976, and it enjoyed immense success throughout the 80s and 90s, until the superior DVD format came along. It seems so long ago now, but VHS was controversial upon first release,as the major movie studios went so far as to try to claim copyright violation for the transference of feature films to home video. Eventually the film industry embraced the home video market, resulting in the Blockbuster boon and many a home movie marathons throughout my childhood via the fuzzy, subpar, but somewhat comforting format known as VHS.
While the last film to be released on VHS was Eragon in 2007, apparently people were still buying enough VCRs to keep Funai Electric in business. However, with just 750,000 sales worldwide last year, the company has chosen to cease production and bring a final end to the home video format once and for all.
Some folks continue to collect VHS tapes, with some going for thousands of dollars on eBay. The format is starting to hold a bit of a nostalgic appeal, but will they go the way of vinyl and see a resurgence in the future? I’m doubtful given that the VHS format routinely chopped up the aspect ratio of films and the tape itself can become quite worn and therefore doesn’t have the same playability that vinyl does, but hey, who knows?
So pour one out for VHS. ‘Tis truly the end of an era.