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Last VCR to have plug pulled


TOKYO—Japanese electronics maker Funai Electric Co. says it’s yanking the plug on the world’s last video cassette recorder.

A company spokesman, who requested anonymity citing company practice, confirmed today that production will end sometime this month, although he would not give a date.

He said the company would like to continue production to meet customer requests, but can’t because key component makers are pulling out due to shrinking demand for VCRs.

Many families and libraries have content stored in the VHS format and want to convert the tapes to DVD or other digital disks.

They can do so using VHS/DVD converters, known as “combos” in Japan.

Funai will be rolling out such products later this month, the spokesman said.

Funai’s VCR factory, which is located in China, is off-limits to media coverage for security reasons because other products are made at the same plant, he added.

Funai began making videotape players in 1983, and videotape recorders in 1985.

The company said they were among its all-time hit products.

Last year, Funai made 750,000 VHS machines that played or recorded cassette tapes.

Back in 2000, it made 15 million of them—with 70 percent for the U.S. market, according to the company, which is based in Osaka.

Other products also have grown outdated with the advance of digital and other technology.

That includes film cameras and floppy disks once used to store computer content, which were displaced by smaller memory devices with larger capacity and by “cloud” storage.

Funai will continue selling VCRs through its subsidiary until inventory runs out and will provide maintenance services as long as it can, the company spokesman said.

Videotapes still can be converted using VHS-DVD recorder-players made by other, mostly Chinese companies.

Second-hand products abound in Tokyo’s electronics district, as well. But a time may come when all such options also disappear.

But many are shrugging off the VCR’s disappearance as inevitable.

“I think only hard-core fans of old machines are going to be using VCRs,” said Isao Tokuhashi, author of “My Eyes Tokyo,” a book about newsmakers in Japan.

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