VHS tapes mixed with trash on the ground

Photo via Matt Henry photos/Flickr (CC-BY)

A surprising number of Americans still regularly use VCRs

The VHS isn't dead yet. (Apparently.)


Christina Bonnington


Posted on Sep 5, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 6:26 pm CDT

If you thought the days of VHS tapes and the motto “Be kind, rewind” were over, you’re severely mistaken. VCR usage is alive and well in the U.S. Or, at least, it’s not completely dead.

A recent Bank of America survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers discovered that not one, not ten, but 17 percent of Americans still use their old VCRs. (And people still use a bunch of other “outdated” technologies, too.)

VCRs first emerged in the 1970s and hit their heyday in the late 80s and early 90s. (This brief 1985 New York Times article about the “invasion of VCR owners” is a delightful picture into that VHS-obsessed past.) Usage began to dwindle as we entered the new millennium and DVDs took their place, though. Funai Electric Corp., the last known VCR maker, finally quit making VCRs in July 2016. The Japanese company was having difficulty acquiring some of the necessary components. Film studios, however, ditched the VHS format in favor of DVDs way back in 2006.

I can see reasons for the holdouts. Some of us amassed impressive collections of VHS tapes back in the day. With the value of those tapes mostly hovering around $5 apiece or less, you’re not going to make a fortune by selling them. You may also have some hard-to-find titles that you just like breaking out on the ol’ VHS player once or twice a year.

Back in 2014, more than half (58%) of homes still had a VCR, according to a Gallup poll.

Bank of America’s survey revealed some other interesting stats, as well. Half of us still listen to CDs—hey, we don’t all have Bluetooth-equipped cars—but only 11% of those surveyed listen to records. Meanwhile, 40% of us still use handheld calculators. It’s unclear, however, if those are TI-86 Plus diehards or folks tapping on run-of-the-mill pocket calculators. Lastly, just over a third of respondents still own a landline phone, according to this particular survey.

Still, it’s that VCR usage number that’s especially surprising in today’s world of Netflix‘s streaming ubiquity.

H/T Business Insider

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*First Published: Sep 5, 2017, 12:41 pm CDT