Old Tech Favorite Fades Away

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Some tech companies hold on from the point of leading edge to end up being known as a “legacy” company, producing a nostalgic widget that actually surges a bit in popularity due to antiquity and collectibility.

Way back in 1989 there was an interview with a fellow who had been laid off from his technology manufacturing job after 35 years because his factory, the last of its kind, was moving to Mexico. Was he upset over the shift to an out of country solution and the loss of his tech job? Not really. He knew it was time to move on.

What did he and his firm produce? Typewriters.

Well, the old tech is sinking into the vast sunset again. The final VCR (does anyone remember those?) player manufacturer is closing for good and all.

All good tech must come to an end. Funai Electric Comapany—the last known producers of Video Cassette Recorders, or VCRs—have hit “stop” on manufacturing, Japanese newspaper Nikkei reports.

VCRs (and their good buddies, VHS tapes) first hit the shelves in the 1970s and quickly rose to dominance, the absolute centerpiece technology for endless sleep-overs, late night TV recordings, and screenings of shakily filmed Little League games. Everyone had a wall shelf of tapes. By the 1990s, 95% of American households had one. Just ten years later, though, DVD players were successfully muscling in on this territory, and producers of VCRs and VHS tapes slowly began to give up.

The last holdout was Funai, which built their recorders in China and sold them in North America under the Sanyo brand. According to Nikkei, Funai is stopping production this month, citing a shrinking market and the difficulty of finding parts.

One of the coolest things about VCRs is pressing that rewind button and listening to the tape spin back. Technological progress, however, moves relentlessly forward, and you can’t rewind it, no matter how kind you are.

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