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Vintage VCRs

In 1956, Ampex pioneered the first commercially practical videotape recording system. The Ampex system, though, used reel-to-reel tape and physically bulky equipment not suitable for home use.

Vintage VCRs

In the mid-1970s, videotape became the first truly practical home-video format with the development of videocassettes, which were far easier to use than tape reels. The Betamax and VHS home videocassette formats were introduced, respectively, in 1975 and 1976 but several more years and dramatic reductions in the prices of both equipment and videocassettes were needed before both formats started to become widespread in households.

Initially, film studios and video distributors assumed that consumers would not want to buy prerecorded videocassettes, but merely rent them. They also felt that virtually all of the sales would be to video rental stores and set prices accordingly. The shift to home viewing also changed the movie industry's revenue streams, because home renting created an additional window of time in which a film could make money. In some cases, films that performed only modestly in their theater releases went on to sell strongly into the rental market (e.g., cult films).

Despite the mainstream dominance of DVD, VHS continued to linger on into the 2000s and gradually faded into history during the 2010s. The switch to DVD initially led to the marketplace being flooded with used VHS videocassettes, which were available at pawnshops and second-hand stores, typically for a much lower price than the equivalent film on a used DVD. In July 2016, the last known manufacturer of VCRs, Funai, announced that it was ceasing VCR production.

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