What Happened to VCRs? And Can You Still Buy Them Online?

If you ever wondered, “What happened to VCRs?” you’re not alone. The former living room staple disappeared with little fanfare, leaving scant evidence to show it even existed. As the MiniDisc player, the floppy disc and the fax machine discovered, technology’s invention and disappearance is a pretty cutthroat process. So let’s look at the history (and fate) of VCRs and VCR/DVD combo devices before checking where it’s still possible to get your hands on one.


What Is a VCR?

A videocassette recorder (or VCR) is a device capable of playing the analog video and audio information stored on a VHS tape/cassette through a connected TV. This process requires a VHS (video home system) tape to be loaded into the VCR via a mechanical loading (and ejection) system. Once loaded, a number of recording heads in the VCR read and convert the information stored on the VHS tape into TV-compatible signals that can be watched and listened to. If this all sounds too complicated, think of a VHS as a less advanced but more mechanically complicated DVD and the VCR as a DVD player.

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The History (and Death) of the VCR

At the time of the original VCR’s release in 1976, it was an industry-leading, sought-after technology. Compact (for 1976), one-inch thick VHS tapes could be purchased or rented before being enjoyed at the VCR owner’s leisure. VCRs gave viewers more freedom over what TV shows and movies to watch and when to watch them.

This convenience led to the VCR’s rise to unrivaled supremacy in the home-entertainment industry. This 30-year reign was accompanied by the rise of the home video store, which saw companies like Blockbuster Video become household names for purchasing and renting VHS tapes.

However, just before the turn of the

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