VCRs erased from the high street

UK retailer Dixons has announced that it will no longer stock VCRs in its high street stores, marking the beginning of the end for a hugely successful technology story

Consumer electronics chain store Dixons is to stop selling video recorders because of the rise in popularity of DVD technology.

The store, which has sold VCRs for 26 years, said that DVD sales had damaged VCR revenue to such an extent that by Christmas the machines would no longer available in their shops.

"We're saying goodbye to one of the most important products in the history of consumer technology," said John Mewett, marketing director at Dixons. "The video recorder has been with us for a generation, and many of us have grown up with the joys -- and occasional frustrations -- of tape-based recording. We are now entering the digital age and the DVD technology available represents a step change in picture quality and convenience."

Dixons said that that demand for VCRs had fallen since the middle of the 1990s, while sales of DVD players have grown seven-fold in the last five years, outselling VCRs by 40 to one.

The VCR first hit the shops in the 1970s, when two companies (Sony with its Betamax system and JVC with its Video Home System (VHS)) were racing to perfect incompatible cassette formats, which became a battle for the dominant format in the 1980s. VHS won the fight and by 1985 it had become the standard for video cassette recorders. In 1988 Sony stopped making Betamax machines for the UK and started production of its own VHS recorders.

Between 1980 and 1990 the worldwide market for VCRs went from 10 to 200 million units and by 2002 almost 90 percent of UK households owned one.

DVD recorders can be bought from around £150 and DVD players for as little as £25.

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