• 1976 JVC VHS Player

1976 JVC VHS Player (Photo : Twitter)

Video cassette recorders (VCRs) were launched four decades ago when Japanese companies including Sony, Panasonic, JVC, and RCA helped to develop the first VCRs with mass-market success. Japanese electronics company Funai Electric will stop manufacturing Video Home System (VHS) players by the end of July. The last VCR maker decided to end production of the VHS format devices due to decreased sales and difficulty finding some parts.

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The news was reported by Japanese newspaper Nikkei. It is the world's largest financial newspaper and read daily by over three million people.       

Funai sold VCRs under the Sanyo brand in North America and China, and has been producing VCRs for over three decades, according to Ars Technica.

The electronics company has been manufacturing VCR players since 1983. It switched to the VHS format after its own Compact Video Cassette (CVC) format with a smaller video tape had low sales compared to VHS and Betamax machines.

Betamax players were discontinued in 2002. They were the main rival of VCRs during the 1980s. Sony then announced last year that it will stop producing Betamax tapes in Japan.  

Funai sold up to 15 million VCRs per year when sales were highest, but in 2015 it only sold 750,000 units.

VHS machines use an electro-mechanical process in order to display/record audio and video. They use a thin piece of plastic called tape.

VCRs were technological wonders when they hit the market. That is because people could record TV shows and movies like today's DVRs.

By the mid-1980s several major Hollywood movies were available on video cassettes, according to PC World. This resulted in video rental stores such as Blockbuster becoming popular.

However, VCRs also caused some major problems for owners. They included machines needing regular cleaning, VHS players "eating" damaged tapes, and confusing programmable timers.    

VHS cassettes had their last production runs in 2008 and have been replaced by two digital formats: DVD and Blu-ray. Hard disk players now record content easily, which was the one advantage of VCRs over DVD players.

Most consumers prefer digital video over the VHS format. However, some collectors are looking for old films on VHS tapes because they have a rudimentary look of drive-in theaters including movie mistakes and bad makeup.   

Here's a retro Panasonic VHS ad: