VHS has finally stopped breathing

Written by Ced Kurtz on .

Illustration: Jonathan Bieda

Sitting on the bottom shelf of my entertainment center is an antique Sony VCR, a dusty device whose only duty these days is to play old Disney movies and Dora the Explorer videos for my toddler. 

It hasn't recorded anything since my DVR showed up four years ago. 

I've always felt sad that someday that trusty machine would give up the ghost but it turns out the machine is just fine.  It's the whole VHS video format that is dying, and this story by the LA Times is the coffin nail.

Pop culture is finally hitting the eject button on the VHS tape, the once-ubiquitous home-video format that will finish this month as a creaky ghost of Christmas past.

After three decades of steady if unspectacular service, the spinning wheels of the home-entertainment stalwart are slowing to a halt at retail outlets. On a crisp Friday morning in October, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Fla., warehouse run by Ryan J. Kugler, the last major supplier of the tapes.

"It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."

It had to happen eventually.  Audio LPs gave way to 8-tracks, which caved to cassettes and ultimately to CDs and digital music downloads.  In the video column, VHS was followed by DVD and now Blu-Ray, and video downloads are already occuring.  In fact, one could argue that CDs and Blu-Ray will go down in history as the last physical audio and video medium to be mass produced.

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