by Kirsten Howard
Most of us stopped using video cassette recorders a very, very long time ago. By 2008, DVD had officially replaced VHS as the preferred home media format, and the glory days of the 1980s—when VHS and Betamax battled it out to be the number-one choice for watching and recording movies and television at home—were very much in the rear-view mirror.
So it might surprise you to learn that VCRs are still being manufactured—at least they were until this month. Funai Electric, the last remaining Japanese company to make the units, has announced that the company will cease production on its VCR units, due to declining sales and difficulty acquiring parts.
Their VCRs are made in China and sold in many territories, including North America, under brand names like Sanyo, but last year’s figures reported just 750,000 sales worldwide.
Despite flagging sales of VCRs, collector sales of VHS tapes are booming, with some rare editions fetching nearly $2000 a pop. Many collectors consider VHS to be the vinyl of analog video recording, and think the future could see them hoarded just as enthusiastically.
“These are movies that feel too cleaned-up on DVD and Blu-ray, as if they were never meant to look that good,” explained one collector. “You can see the mistakes they made and the bad makeup and everything. Watching them on VHS is closer to the old drive-in or grindhouse theater, the way the director intended it to look.”