VCR Player R.I.P. 1975-2008

 

JVC brings down the curtain on standalone
players and recorders.

 

By
Fred Mills

 

Sad news,
gearheads and bootleg tape trader fiends: according to tech site Engadget, this
week “marks the end of an era” – JVC, the last remaining electronics
manufacture to produce VCR players, has announced it will no longer be
manufacturing standalone units.

 

 

You remember the VCR, right? That bulky,
funny-looking gadget you used to play your Betamax, and later VHS, tapes on?
The one you manned until all hours of the morning trying to nab some obscure
film being broadcast on the local affiliate, or this week’s edition of seminal
music program The Midnight Special,
or if you were really lucky, some amateur porn being broadcast over a tiny cable
access channel.

 

 

I
still have fond memories of being off at college when, upon learning that PiL
was about to appear on American Bandstand,
I frantically dialed my mom and begged her to pop in a blank tape and record
the show for me (our family had a recorder but I didn’t – back then, they cost
something like 900 bucks). I also got her into the habit of putting in a tape
every Saturday night around 11:30 and just letting it run while NBC aired Saturday Night Live – and yes, you
guessed it, I acquired a trove of vintage Saturday
Night Live
programs that way, including all the early, classic music
performances (Elvis Costello et al).
And let’s not forget rival comedy/music program Fridays – the 4-song Clash appearance was among network TV’s most
memorable music broadcasts ever.

 

 

Thanks,
mom.

 

 

At
any rate, Engadget waxes nostalgically too:

 

 

“Today, friends, is a day worth remembering.
Today truly marks the end of an era, as so far as we can tell, JVC really was
the only company still producing standalone VCRs. Of course, the outfit will
continue to serve customers with a need to play back VHS tapes by offering up
DVD / VHS combo units, but those looking for a shiny new slice of retro in 2008
will be out of luck after remaining inventories dry up. 

 

“All told, over 900 million VCRs were
produced worldwide, with 50 million of those boasting a JVC label. We simply
couldn’t think of a more fitting way to put the iconic VCR (which just turned
30 in 2005) to bed than by hosting up a poll and soliciting your input —
here’s hoping the videocassette lives on in your domicile in one form or
another, even if it’s just the resident dust collector.”

 

 

If
you go to the Endgadget site you can also vote in their poll. As of this
writing the “I’ve got one, but it hasn’t been used in eons” response is in the
lead:

 

 

  • Yes! Use my standalone VCR
    regularly! 3061
    (9.8%)
  • I’ve got one in a combo
    unit. 3255
    (10.5%)
  • I’ve got one, but it
    hasn’t been used in eons. 11762 (37.8%)
  • No way — sent mine to the
    thrift store years ago. 5442 (17.5%)
  • Just picked up a huge lot
    on eBay! 148
    (0.5%)
  • Did VHS really outlast HD
    DVD? Damn. 7476
    (24.0%)

 

 

And
just for the record, I own a combo VCR/DVD unit by Sony, but I also own a
standalone double-well dubbing deck manufactured by GoVideo (the company that
specialized in producing, for awhile, units that could override copy-protection
features on commercially-manuractured video tapes).

 

 

Shit.
I’m feeling really nostalgic now.  Somewhere I’ve got a tape-box full of Flaming Lips
concerts filmed way back on their Hear It
Is
tour. Time to go watch them again. Here’s hoping the tracking function
on one of my players still works.

 

 

Meanwhile,
expect a backlash, 8-track style, from collectors everywhere. Something about
primitive technology that a true luddite simply can’t resist, I guess…

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply