The Last VCR

Posted by Madam Bubby

 

Vinyl is still around and actually thriving, especially in indie music and hipster circles, but I the same revival hasn't quite happened for the VHS, which means those old video tapes one sees in thrift stores may end up in landfills or supporting window air conditioners.

According to this source, Japan's Funai Electric, who claimed to be the last VCR manufacturer, stopped producing the machines several years ago, in July of 2016. This source also gives a brief history of the medium, which for readers of a certain age, will certainly bring back memories.

Beta tapes? Wow. I remember my Dad got every James Bond movie he could find on Beta. Yes, Beta, which did not last. What happened to all those Beta tapes?

 

VHS and Beta gay porn tapes

VHS and Beta gay porn tapes in the Bijou office

 

And those bulky cameras. People started to get really obsessed with them, I remember, at least initially, and this before the days of easy selfies and youtube videos. Want a movie of someone eating mashed potatoes at a 1980s christening celebration? It's on a VHS tape, and probably now remastered digitally and streaming somewhere on youtube.

 

Old video camera

 

Some even attributed the supposed narcissism of Generation X and millenials to this phenomenon. Hey, can I see the tape of me when I was four throwing water balloons at the next door neighbor? Or how about when I got ten Atari video games for Christmas when I was ten and threw a tantrum (captured for time immemorial) because my brother got a more expensive one?

Digital hoarding perhaps started with the VCR. There was the woman on the show Hoarders taping constantly on a multitude of TVs. Think walls of tapes. Her son said, well, I guess if you want a Phil Donahue show from the 1980s, this is the place to go.

 

Huge stash of VHS tapes

 

Of course, the advent of this medium totally revolutionized the porn industry. Instead of having to go to a porn theater like Chicago's late, great Bijou Theater, one could rent and even buy tapes and watch porn at home. Or even tape amateur porn. Porn creators made a killing for a while on these often very expensive tapes, but now with streaming and youtube, the sex exists in cyberspace rather than captured on a concrete medium like a VHS tape.

 

'80s ads for VHS/Beta sales at the Bijou Theater & Surge Studio's Century Mining on VHS/Beta for $79

'80s ads for VHS/Beta sales (including Pieces of EightMichael, Angelo & David) at the Bijou Theater & Surge Studio's Century Mining on VHS/Beta for $79

 

Will VHS make a comeback? Some grassroots indie artists and retro collectors may be rediscovering the medium (and also the major consumer movie format before video, Super 8 film). Is it the appeal of retro, or some other specific component of the medium? Time may tell.

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trident1000
"Return of the Jedi" VHS tape was not Return of the Jedi.
Wednesday, 12 January 2022 21:06
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