" " The last Japanese company making VHS cassette players will soon cease production. Image: Kazuhiro Nogia/AFP/Getty Images; Video: Time
Who watches video tapes anymore? With the rise of ever-higher-definition streaming video that you can load up just about any time and in any place, it's probably safe to assume that there are not a ton of folks still lugging around a library of VHS tapes and the clunky equipment you need to play them. The move to more modern forms of television and movie viewing may have left videocassette recorders (VCRs) primed for burial long ago, and the final nail in the coffin is coming by the end of July — that's when the only manufacturer known to still be making the box-shaped tape players will roll the last ones off of its assembly line.
" " A pile of obsolete electronics awaits disassembly, recycling and disposal. Zoran Milich/Getty Images
Funai Electric says its VCRs simply became too expensive to make, as parts for the machines have become more difficult to secure. Still, the company churned out 750,000 analog tape players last year. (Mathematically, that's about 749,999 more than many people would have assumed.) Although the video-viewing masses have moved on to other mediums to catch shows and flicks, a vibrant community of VHS tapeheads remains around the globe.
Funai's decision isn't likely to sit well with VHS diehards, whose preference for analog tapes in many ways mirrors the recent resurgence of vinyl records. Some obscure tapes – especially those never released in other formats — go for big bucks on the trading market. The end of Funai's production run could create a similar market for old VCRs that still work well, and demand for tech tinkerers who can get busted ones up and running again.
If you're looking for another obscure video format to turn to, you can also wander over to the digital video disc (DVD) market. New movies and shows are still get DVD releases, Netflix still sends them out to subscribers via mail and you can even wander in to a Target or Best Buy to scoop them up. But you can't pop a DVD into your phone, tablet or most new laptop computers. That probably means the platform that replaced the VHS, and even its successor Blu-ray, will also head to the graveyard sometime soon.
" " Funai Electric, which says it is the world's last VCR manufacturer, pointed to a sharp decline in demand and trouble sourcing parts as the reasons to halt production of the once-popular device.. Kazuhiro Nogia/AFP/Getty Images