'Variety' Publishes Obituary for the VHS Tape

Hollywood's Daily Variety has published an obituary proclaiming the passing of a technological icon: the VHS tape. The former king of home entertainment has a 30-year history to look back on.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In our last word on technology, we gather to say goodbye to a beloved friend, the VHS tape. Variety has already run an obituary, saying the tape format died of loneliness. This year, film studios effectively halted production of VHS tapes.

It was back in 1972 when NPR listeners may have first heard about VHS, referred to as Cartridge Television. We found it a little crackly back then in this report from Bill Tui(ph).

BILL TUI: And what about the theatre owners? It would seem that they too have cause for worry. But Cartridge Television's Sam Gelfman(ph) doesn't think so.

Mr. SAM GELFMAN: We're not going to keep people out of the theatres. We're just going to deliver movies to the people who would not go to the theatre.

MONTAGNE: Decades later at an electronic store in Santa Monica, Mike Nichols(ph) says he doesn't bother displaying VCRs on the sales floor.

Mr. MIKE NICHOLS (Electronics Store Worker): I remember when they first came out with the product. It was wonderful explaining to people how they worked and then actually demonstrating it.

MONTAGNE: Outside the store, Sabrina Southerland(ph) from Los Angeles doesn't seem too concerned.

Ms. SABRINA SOUTHERLAND: Yeah. I'm really sorry for the VHS, but I mean...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SOUTHERLAND: I have a group of friends and we kind of share one VCR. And so if there's a situation where we absolutely need to play one, we'll just pick it up from each other's homes.

MONTAGNE: Sabrina Southerland was on her way out of the store with a new DVD player. But it may not be long before that format goes extinct. HD DVD and Blu-Ray are duking it out right now, just as VHS and BetaMax did years ago.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

And I'm John Ydstie.

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