This is the first in a series of articles about my recent quest to replace a broken VCR in this era of DVDs, DVRs, and other newfangled gadgets.

There are currently four VCRs in my home in addition to a DVR/cable box in my living room. You would think the loss of one VCR wouldn’t put a crimp in my style. After all there are still three other VCRs and the digital recorder in the cable box can record two different programs at once. The VCR in the living room we rarely use anymore because we have the DVR/cable box. The living room VCR is mostly used these days copy things off of the DVR on to tape so that I can watch them in my bedroom. The VCR in my office is used for transferring things from my computer to tape. It’s connected to the computer using a Pinnacle Studios Dazzle 150 analog video converter box. In my bedroom I watch a lot of tape in bed at night but sometimes there’s something I want to record while I’m watching so I really need two VCRs in the bedroom. It’s also nice to have two VCRs in the same room connected to each other so did you ever wonder copy something from one tape to another it is easy to do so. Also there have been times when I needed to record as many as four shows while watching a fifth one cy do really need several VCRs.

The living room, office, and one of the bedroom VCRs are all JVC which is really handy because my multifunction remote control can handle all of them using just one device on my a device remote. The other VCR in the bedroom was a Toshiba and it was probably my favorite one in the house. It seemed to handle old crinkly tapes or poorly recorded tapes better than any machine in the house. I liked the fact that every time you hit play, stop, rewind, or fast forward it would briefly display the tape counter onscreen. You did not have to hit a display button to get the tape counter to show. It was the VCR in the bedroom that I used while watching TV in bed and the JVC model was a backup.

So the other day it started making funny noises and it ate up a tape and refused to eject it. Dad tried to take apart and figure out what was wrong but it kept eating tapes and jamming the eject mechanism. So I decided to go online to to pick out a new one.

They didn’t have any!

Neither did Circuit City… or H.H.Gregg… or anywhere else I looked.

I couldn’t believe it but nobody makes just plain VCRs anymore! You have to buy a DVD/VCR combination. In fact there are very few models that are just DVD/VCRs. Most of them nowadays are DVD recorders with a built-in VCR. It used to be you could get a really nice 4-head hi-fi stereo VCR for about $50. The VCR/DVD combos cost as much as $100 and the ones with DVD recorders are as much as twice that.

I think the signs are very clear that the VCRs days ar e numbered. That amazing old friend of ours the VHS VCR is going the way of BetaMax, and 8-track audio tapes… and come to think of it regular audiocassettes have pretty much disappeared as well. It’s not just good by VCR… it’s goodbye to tape in general!

This horrifying revelation has prompted me to reflect on my personal history of VCRs. In the next installments we’ll talk about my passion for recording and my first VCR. Then we will discover an even more amazing secret about VCRs and even DVD recorders that are losing one of their greatest features. Stay tuned as the mystery reveals itself!

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