Danny Tyree, 7/27/2016 [Archive]

World's Final VCR Produced

Tyrades! By Danny Tyree

Every Monday night in the fall of 1975, I ran until I was out of breath.

Despite rushing home from my afterschool job, I always missed the first five minutes of "All In The Family."

I could certainly have used an iconic device that wouldn't go into distribution in the U.S. for another two years: the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR).

I bring this up because USA Today reported that Funai Electronics, the last known manufacturer of VCRs, will no longer make them after this July.

The Japanese company cited declining demand (750,000 units sold last year, versus the peak of 15 million units annually) and the difficulty of procuring parts.

Parts? Given how outdated the device had become, I wonder if the parts were horseshoes so the Pony Express could deliver them?

Who is still buying 750,000 VCRs a year? One source said the Chinese, but I suspect that some distant tribe is sacrificing them to the volcano god. ("And here is a copy of Cheech & Chong's 'Up In Smoke' for good measure.")

There are probably a LOT of Third World nations proudly using the analogue technology. ("Maybe I earn only a quarter a day, but you can bounce that quarter off these abs after I finish all those Jane Fonda workout tapes!")

In its day, the VCR was hailed as revolutionary. Yes, "revolutionary" in that the wobbly, ever-degenerating images made the characters all fidget like they were waiting for the GUILLOTINE.

Okay, the VCR was also revolutionary in that it offered an explosion of options for home entertainment. As a precursor of today's Redbox, "time-shifting" and streaming media, it saved us from being at the mercy of theater owners and network programmers. Instead, we were at the mercy of idiot family members who forgot to program the thing or idiot family members who left the dog unattended to chew the cord. Even Bob Hope wouldn't go near THOSE war zones.

The VCR spared us from sprinting to the bathroom at every commercial break. Sure, the Surgeon General issued a preliminary report that this change sparked a rise in cardiovascular disease; but he somehow got distracted from issuing a final draft. ("Who's the idiot who taped over the 'M*A*S*H' finale????")

The "leisure" device actually provided new things to stress out over. ("I've still got 567 hours of game shows to catch up on. I think Bob Barker should have promoted spaying or neutering 'The Price Is Right' instead of pets!")

Remember the war between the VHS and Betamax formats of recording? And how leaked index cards in cursive handwriting revealed that the Democratic National Committee was involved in swinging support to VHS? (They even got Pres. Jimmy Carter to tell "Playboy" magazine, "I have lusted after grainy home movies in my heart.")

The VCR was such a big deal that the Supreme Court had to rule on the technology in 1984, deciding that it was NOT illegal to copy TV shows for home viewing. In a sidebar, the Court also declared that videotapes are PERSONS, with the free speech rights to donate to political campaigns and demand reparations for being stuck in dusty bookcases or grungy yard sale boxes.

When the last shiny new VCRs have worn out, it'll really be time to bury the technology. But don't dig a shallow grave. The &^%$# things will probably CHEW their way out!


©2016 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades." Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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