Today came a newspaper story that the VHS tape is about to become a memory. That is not news of course. But it is a reminder that the future keeps rolling along, and technology keeps advancing. Unlike when records and albums ceased to be popular, I have no wistful thoughts about the VHS tape. The tape is not something that makes me nostalgic like the vinyl of my favorite recordings. In fact, I always thought VHS tapes to be clunky, as they remindeded me of 8-track tapes.
However, I do recall many years ago how excited I was over getting my first VHS recorder, knowing that programs I wanted to see on TV when I was not at home was possible to still enjoy. I recall opening the box in my small apartment in downtown Madison, and loving the new plastic smell that wafted from the purchase. New electronics and the smell they have is right up there with fresh cut grass. After getting it set up I had to make sure it worked. So the next day I hurried home from my office to see if the program I had set to record was on the tape. And there it was. Phil Donahue did not have to be missed just because I was at work! GLORY!
Those moments on TV that I wanted to see over and over could be mine through what was then the latest cutting edge technology. I considered buying a VHS recorder a practical purchase for the job I had, and the times I was not at home. I quickly thought of the VHS recorder as an essential part of my entertainment system. That is the side effect of technology. There is always something new and enticing that once purchased becomes so much a part of our routine that when it breaks down we feel let down. There is no end to the home entertainment journey. And aren’t we glad about that fact?
I recall, like most of my readers, when a VHS recorder was several hundred dollars, but over the past couple of Christmas seasons they could be picked up at places such as Best Buy for a song. More often than not they now come bundled with the DVD capability in the machine as well.
Most people have left VHS all together, and rightfully moved to DVD recorders. For many, such as myself, a converter is also part of our home so the old VHS tapes with special memories are now on DVD.
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.”