Rewind: Looking Back After Last Company To Make VCRs Ends Production

By Annika Cline
Published: Monday, August 1, 2016 - 5:50pm
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(Photo by Annika Cline - KJZZ)
Melrose Electronics still has stacks of VCR players from different decades.

Remember punching in a VHS tape when you wanted to watch a movie at home?

Maybe you still do that, or maybe it’s been a little while. And maybe your VCR is long gone, replaced with DVDs and online streaming.

But those machines were still being made, until last week. The last company making VCRs in the world decided to power off. 

Funai Electric is a Japanese electronics company. On their website you’ll find glossy flat-screen TVs and sleek DVD and Blu-Ray players.

Last week a representative from the company said in an email:

“Funai will stop making video cassette recorders (VCRs, VCR/DVD combos) by the end of this month, due to difficulty acquiring parts mainly.”

And after detailing some sales numbers, it ends on a bit of a mournful note:

“We are the last manufacturer of VCRs, in all of the world, indeed.”

But not everyone is offering their condolences.  

“Well I don’t know that it much matters to me. I haven’t owned one in 20 years.”

“No sympathy. We turned the VCRs that we had into something that we could just store on our computer.” 

“It feels like the time. We’re two iterations beyond VHS, so I’m ready to say goodbye.” 

Movie-goers Gary, Randall and Aaron are among a crowd spilling out of the Harkins Camelview theatre in Scottsdale. The sentiment here seems to be out with the old, in with the new. Movie-watching methods evolve, and so do the habits of the viewers. So I stopped by a place more familiar with the way things were. 

“This is Melrose Electronics. It’s been here since 1957,” said shop owner Richard Heaton.

Heaton has been repairing TVs since they had tubes in them, and VCRs since they came out in the 70s.

Surely he must be sad to see them go?

“There is no money to be made on DVDs and VCRs,” Heaton said.

He said he used to repair a lot of VCRs. 

“The peak for me was in the early 1990s. And we would get 10 to 20 VCRs a day,” he said.

Back when people were punching in flicks like "The Sandlot," "Shawshank Redemption," and of course, "Forrest Gump."

VCRs had a good run. Funai Electronics saw its peak sales in the early 2000s. Then came DVDs, and the combination DVD/VCR player hit the market. Repair shops hit a wall.

“I tried so many times to fix those. VCR/DVD combos without the tuner are almost not repairable,” Heaton said.  

There are stacks of them in Heaton’s store, useless now. So if you are feeling nostalgic and you would like to revive some old VHS tapes, here’s his recommendation:

“If you get a VCR back in the early 1990s, they were the really good ones,” Heaton said.

And we can also look to the ‘90s for one last reason why someone might want to hold on to that VCR player — home movies.

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