Thursday, October 30, 2008

VCR And The End Of An Era

By Lee Distad

JVC announced this week that it has ceased production of VCRs. Once existing global inventory is sold through, that’s it.

This is especially newsworthy not only because VHS was such an enduring and successful format, having sold over 900 million units since 1976, but also because I (and I’m sure lots of other people) thought that the company had stopped making them long ago! Granted, it’s not a complete extinction. JVC will continue to make DVD/VCR combos for the near term.

At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, like many other lifers in the CE business, I have warm memories associated with VCRs. The first piece of electronics I ever sold was a Sony VHS VCR. Back in those days, you could make a tidy living just on the commissions from VCR sales. Tapes, too. I still remember pitching the advantages of higher grade and thus more expensive VHS tapes when selling them by the case.

For that matter, as late as the year 1999, I was still selling as many as 100 Betamax cassettes a week, believe it or not. I had four long-time clients in my client binder who were die-hard Betamax owners, and every time my store got a delivery of tapes, I would call each of them up. Whichever of them got to the store first would buy up the lot! They knew each other and all knew the score. It was like a little game between them.

A lot of years have passed since then, and we’ve seen so much technological progress in CE in even the last five years alone. It makes me wonder what technology I’m going to get all sentimental about 20 years from now.

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