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Last Major Supplier Calls It Quits For VHS

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the one-death-after-another dept.

Media 308

thefickler writes "The last major supplier of VHS videotapes is ditching the format in favor of DVD, effectively killing the format for good. This uncharitable commentator has this to say: 'Will VHS be missed? Not ... with videos being brittle, clunky, and rather user-unfriendly. But they ushered in a new era that was important to get to where we are today. And for that reason, the death of VHS is rather sad. Almost as sad as the people still using it.'" At least my dad's got the blank-tape market cornered.

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308 comments

first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231699)

first - nothing better to do on christmas day

Re:first (4, Funny)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231713)

first - nothing better to do on christmas day

Try masturbating. See how well I type with one hand?

No players on the market (4, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231703)

I recently had the challenge of trying to find a VHS player in a retail store. I couldn't find one, so in that sense the format has been dead a long time. Now that no major manufacturer is producing new media, I wonder in how many years the last playable VHS cassette will wear out. 20? 50? Will there even be an operable player at that time, that can output video into a then-standard format?

Re:No players on the market (4, Insightful)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231711)

I still see DVD/VHS combo units around fairly frequently....

Re:No players on the market (0)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231729)

I still see DVD/VHS combo units around fairly frequently....

Where do you live? Here in Israel (Haifa) there are none.

Re:No players on the market (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231815)

Here in the U.S. you can walk into your nearest Best Buy, and they likely have 3 different models on the shelf. Lots and lots of other stores have them as well.

Re:No players on the market (3, Informative)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231847)

There's always Amazon. But Best Buy alone has 9 on their website at the moment. They are out there - slowly fading away, but they're still out there.

Re:No players on the market (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231939)

Wir mussen die Juden ausrotten.

Re:No players on the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231995)

Sie sind ein rassistisches Nazischwein.

Re:No players on the market (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232061)

Ihr seid beiden Trolle.

Re:No players on the market (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232235)

English motherfucker

Re:No players on the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232051)

I have one. I had to replace the DVD player, but the VHS is still chugging along.

Re:No players on the market (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232063)

Agreed. It's impossible to find a brand new standalone VHS machine, but combos are aplenty.

Re:No players on the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231725)

Now that no major manufacturer is producing new media??

Re:No players on the market (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231739)

I recently had the challenge of trying to find a VHS player in a retail store. I couldn't find one, so in that sense the format has been dead a long time. Now that no major manufacturer is producing new media, I wonder in how many years the last playable VHS cassette will wear out. 20? 50? Will there even be an operable player at that time, that can output video into a then-standard format?

Probably not, although there will probably still be paid services available than can convert them to digital media. Anyone with a VHS collection who still has a working VCR had best get a good framegrabber board and start digitizing them before it's too late. I have a couple of VCRs (although I haven't used them for a long time) and for a mere $100 per tape hour I'll be happy to put them on DVD for you.

Sure, that's ridiculous ... but wait a few years. People will be paying big money to have little Tommy's graduation video converted.

Song of the South (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231763)

Probably not, although there will probably still be paid services available than can convert them to digital media.

Unless it's a major-studio pre-recorded VHS tape that hasn't been rereleased on DVD, such as the PAL release of Disney's Song of the South. These paid services will likely refuse such a transfer request on copyright grounds unless perhaps your name is Bob Iger.

Re:Song of the South (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231813)

Probably not, although there will probably still be paid services available than can convert them to digital media.

Unless it's a major-studio pre-recorded VHS tape that hasn't been rereleased on DVD, such as the PAL release of Disney's Song of the South. These paid services will likely refuse such a transfer request on copyright grounds unless perhaps your name is Bob Iger.

Yeah, or Jack Valenti. Oh, I know he's technically deceased but I always figured he wasn't, you know, all the way dead. Seriously though, you're right, at least here in the U.S. and probably most of Europe.

THINKGEEK has converters (1)

Jack9 (11421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231805)

http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/digital-conversion/ [thinkgeek.com]

There are lots of services and gadgets around to do VHS to Digital. These guys sell something like that, I think.

Re:THINKGEEK has converters (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231845)

http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/digital-conversion/ [thinkgeek.com]

There are lots of services and gadgets around to do VHS to Digital. These guys sell something like that, I think.

Yes indeed, but the question is ... what happens in ten years or so? With nobody selling blanks and nobody selling recorders, and nobody selling pre-recorded tapes, the market is going to consist solely of people that want to convert older recordings. Is there enough money in that, to make it worth manufacturing consumer-level equipment that will basically only get used once?

Re:No players on the market (2, Insightful)

flajann (658201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231929)

This speaks to the larger problem, in general, of keeping our media formats current. Even with data, anything we may have on floppy will probably not be readable by anything current today. And I had a lot of cool stuff I worked on years ago on the 8" floppies -- remember those? I couldn't find any 8" floppy drives by the mid 80's, and the ones I had broke down, and the manufacturer had no interest in repairing them.

Now with Blu Ray out and getting cheaper and cheaper, we will probably see the gradual dissaparence of the old CD format. Already I have no access to the many backups I've made on 90's tape drives -- Travan, I think it was called.

Much data will simply be lost to the sea change. Thumb drives have displaced the floppy, Blu Ray will eventually displace DVDs, and even IDE drives are beginning to slip into obscurity. I still have stuff on old 40-megabyte SCSI drives (yes, I said MEGA-byte!) back from my Amiga days but forget about SCSI controllers to read them now.

I did manage to snag a high-end VHS machine from a friend who used to do video productions. It is the only machine I have that can read the stacks and stacks of VHS tapes I've accumulated over the years. But much of that stuff is probably not worth digitizing, and the few things that are are litterally buried in the midst of many, many 6-hour VHS tapes that I would have to spend hundreds of hours looking for. Doesn't seem to really worth the time.

Re:No players on the market (3, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232013)

Yeah, Travan, I remember them. Nice drives, long gone.

I used to run a multinode BBS, and we backed up the file server every night onto an HP Sure-Stor DAT drive. I still have all the tapes, but the drive died years ago. I think I could still find one (EBay, whatever) but eventually that won't be possible. And like you said, it's not all that important anyway. Twenty year old Fidonet messages and thousands upon thousands of old DOS shareware apps. Not exactly stuff anyone really needs or wants. I just couldn't make myself throw them away. Packrat instinct, I suppose. Still ... maybe now's the time.

After that experience, I back up all my truly critical data (if we really think about what's critical most of us don't have that much ... no, your House, M.D. .AVIs don't count) to non-volatile media, with offsite storage, etc. Everything else gets copied over to the next generation of hard drive every so often. Heck, I've gone from a 5 Mb. Corvus to terabyte drives in the past 30 years. I just keep buying bigger drives and moving the stuff over.

Like you said, though, you have to stay on top of it. It's all too easy to find yourself suddenly unable to read your old media. I understand that NASA is losing enormous quantities of 9-track tape data from the sixties because they can't find equipment to read them, and the tapes are reaching the end of their lifespan. Not good.

Re:No players on the market (1)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231833)

I wonder in how many years the last playable VHS cassette will wear out. 20? 50? Will there even be an operable player at that time, that can output video into a then-standard format?

Considering that there are upscan converters (or upscalers or scalers) that can convert 240i/480i and even smaller interlaced video feeds up to 1080p you can take any VCR/VHS player that has composite video output (or S-video) and plug them into an upscaling device and watch the amplified and upscaled image on an HDTV monitor.

Yeah sure it will look awful but through adapters and converters the technology isn't going to die in our lifetime.

Re:No players on the market (2, Informative)

Wild Wizard (309461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231883)

Now that no major manufacturer is producing new media,

This is certainly not the case on a global scale.

It seems that the US centric view is striking again as the only news article I could find on VHS production closure was for a Sony plant in France.

Not to mention that the article in question doesn't even mention a manufacturer, it's talking about a distributor.

Re:No players on the market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232071)

Oh my God! A web site, run by US citizens, on servers in the US, owned by a US company is US-centric! Call out the dogs! Order pitchforks and torches!

Next, I'm going to go over to a website for a UK magazine I really like and complain that it's UK-centric.

You can still find them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231905)

Weird Stuff Warehouse has a bunch of used VCRs...

Re:No players on the market (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231927)

I recently had the challenge of trying to find a VHS player in a retail store. I couldn't find one, so in that sense the format has been dead a long time.

I work for a web-based virtual retailer and we still sell *reconditioned* units for around £13 (UK). Although the success of lines outside the core "DVDs/CDs and printer ink" is patchy at best, we've sold quite a few of those. Quite surprising to be honest, probably just because we're so damn cheap. (I wonder if the margins are worth it when you take returns into account).

They could get a six-head NICAM/HiFi stereo model for just a few quid extra, but everyone goes for the very cheapest mono model. Bit crap if you want to transfer anything that's in stereo, but it shows you how little VHS is worth to the remaining market.

Honestly, there are likely plenty of people with one or two spare video recorders that they don't use and would give away for even less.

Anyway, even almost five years ago when I replaced my VCR, I got a six-head HiFi stereo model from Amazon for £50. Granted, that was very cheap (and it makes a horrible whining noise), but that's still *nothing*. Now VHS is old tech and they're about to switch off the analogue signal here. (That- as someone else observed- is what will finally kill VHS among the holdouts. You *can* record digital TV using an external tuner, but it's more of a PITA than it's worth to do both timers. Especially as digital PVRs with user-friendly guides are available for way lower than VCRs used to cost).

One thing I don't get; people buying stupid combo units for the purpose of transferring videos to DVD, cassettes to computers. You've probably already got a damn VCR/tape deck, and you're not going to use *that* either once you've finished transferring crap.

Even more stupid, one of those USB cassette player was a double-deck model. WTF?! You're not likely to be dubbing tapes, are you? Who the heck wants *another* massive unit to join the junk in the attic?!

Much better to buy a really user-friendly unit that takes an existing audio/video source as input, detects correct input levels and so on, and digitises it in hardware before passing it to the computer. Who the hell wants more crap? The last remaining producers of these mechanisms must be selling them for next to nothing.

Re:No players on the market (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232177)

Ummm just bought a DVD/VHS combo this summer. See them all the time at the local electronic super store ( even walmart ).

Dunno where you live but something is wrong.

When the last major supplier stops... (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231709)

doesn's become the next supplier in line the major supplier automatically?

When that supplier also stops we have a duplicate newsreport. Slashdor will surely report this since this is a tradition.

VHS wil be like BSD... dead.

Re:When the last major supplier stops... (1, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231737)

doesn's become the next supplier in line the major supplier automatically?

When that supplier also stops we have a duplicate newsreport. Slashdor will surely report this since this is a tradition.

VHS wil be like BSD... dead.

The year of the death of VHS will likely be the year of the Linux desktop. Like another /. poster recently commented, that's every year!

Re:When the last major supplier stops... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231777)

Ahh Slashdor, I love that ice cream!

VHS is Dying (-1, Troll)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232019)

VHS has been dying for years. The death progressed slowly at first, but of late, it has taken a turn for the worse and is nearly complete. The death of VHS has followed several stages.

  Suicide is Painless

In 2000, chief *VHS developer Matt Damon left the project after penning a long, meandering suicide note, loosely based on a novel by renowned playwright Buzz Aldrin.

        FreeVHS used to be fun. It used to be about doing things the right way. It used to be something that you could sink your teeth into when the mundane chores of programming for a living got you down. It was something cool and exciting; a way to spend your spare time on an endeavour you loved that was at the same time wholesome and worthwhile.

        It's not anymore. It's about bylaws and committees and reports and milestones, telling others what to do and doing what you're told. It's about who can rant the longest or shout the loudest or mislead the most people into a bloc in order to legitimise doing what they think is best. Individuals notwithstanding, the project as a whole has lost track of where it's going, and has instead become obsessed with process and mechanics.

Netcraft Weighs In

Not long after Matt's suicide, the United Nations Commission for Wresting Control of the DNS Root Servers from the Imperialist United States ("UN-USA")'s Netcraft project weighed in with its final judgement. In typical Netcraft fashion, the writer kept to the facts and looked to the numbers:

        It is now official. Netcraft has confirmed: *VHS is dying

        One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *VHS community when IDC confirmed that *VHS market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all servers. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that *VHS has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *VHS is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last [samag.com] in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

        You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin [amazingkreskin.com] to predict *VHS's future. The hand writing is on the wall: *VHS faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *VHS because *VHS is dying. Things are looking very bad for *VHS. As many of us are already aware, *VHS continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

        FreeVHS is the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of its core developers. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time FreeVHS developers Jordan Hubbard and Mike Smith only serve to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: FreeVHS is dying.

        Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

        OpenVHS leader Theo states that there are 7000 users of OpenVHS. How many users of NetVHS are there? Let's see. The number of OpenVHS versus NetVHS posts on Usenet is roughly in ratio of 5 to 1. Therefore there are about 7000/5 = 1400 NetVHS users. VHS/OS posts on Usenet are about half of the volume of NetVHS posts. Therefore there are about 700 users of VHS/OS. A recent article put FreeVHS at about 80 percent of the *VHS market. Therefore there are (7000+1400+700)*4 = 36400 FreeVHS users. This is consistent with the number of FreeVHS Usenet posts.

        Due to the troubles of Walnut Creek, abysmal sales and so on, FreeVHS went out of business and was taken over by VHSI who sell another troubled OS. Now VHSI is also dead, its corpse turned over to yet another charnel house.

        All major surveys show that *VHS has steadily declined in market share. *VHS is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If *VHS is to survive at all it will be among OS dilettante dabblers. *VHS continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, *VHS is dead.

That crippling bombshell sent *VHS fans into a tailspin of mourning and denial. However, bad news poured in like a river of water.
[edit] Commission for Technology Management

In 2003, the widely respected Commission for Technology Management completed a year-long intensive survey that concluded that *VHS may as well already be dead.

        Yet another sickening blow has struck what's left of the *VHS community, as a soon-to-be-released report by the independent Commision for Technology Management (CTM) after a year-long study has concluded: *VHS is already dead. Here are some of the commission's findings:

        Fact: the *VHSs have balkanized yet again. There are now no less than twelve separate, competing *VHS projects, each of which has introduced fundamental incompatibilities with the other *VHSs, and frequently with Unix standards. Average number of developers in each project: fewer than five. Average number of users per project: there are no definitive numbers, but reports show that all projects are on the decline.

        Fact: X.org will not include support for *VHS. The newly formed group believes that the *VHSs have strayed too far from Unix standards and have become too difficult to support along with DVD and Solaris x86. "It's too much trouble," said one anonymous developer. "If they want to make their own standards, let them doing the porting for us."

        Fact: DragonflyVHS, yet another offshoot of the beleaguered FreeVHS "project", is already collapsing under the weight of internal power struggles and in-fighting. "They haven't done a single decent release," notes Mark Baron, an industry watcher and columnist. "Their mailing lists read like an online version of a Jerry Springer episode, complete with food fights, swearing, name-calling, and chair-throwing." Netcraft reports that VHS is played on exactly 0% of Japanese homes.

        Fact: There are almost no VHS users left, and its use, according to Netcraft, is down to a sadly crippled .005% of home videos. A recent attempt at a face-to-face summit in Boulder, Colorado culminated in an out-and-out fistfight between core users, reportedly over VHS tape cleaning formats. Hotel security guards broke up the melee and banned the participants from the hotel. Two of the developers were hospitalized, and one continues to have his jaw wired shut.

        Fact: NetVHS, which claims to focus on portability (whatever that is supposed to mean), is slow, and cannot take advantage of multiple CPUs. "That about drove the last nail in the coffin for VHS use here," said Michael Curry, CTO of Amazon.com. "We took our VHS boxes out to the backyard and shot them in the head. We're much happier selling DVD."

        Fact: *VHS has no support from the media. Number of DVD magazines available at bookstores: 5 (DVD Journal, DVD World, DVD Developer, DVD Format, DVD User). Number of available *VHS magazines: 0. Current count of DVD-oriented technical books: 1071. Current count of *VHS books: 6.

        Fact: Many user-level applications will no longer work under *VHS, and no one is working to change this. The GIMP, a Photoshop-like application, has not worked at all under *VHS since version 1.1 (sorry, too much trouble for such a small base, developers have said). OpenOffice, a Microsoft Office clone, has never worked under *VHS and never will. ("Why would we bother?" said developer Steven Andrews, an OpenOffice team lead.)

        Fact: servers running OpenVHS, which claims to focus on security, are frequently compromised. According to Jim Markham, editor of the online security forum SecurityWatch, the few OpenVHS servers that exist on the internet have become a joke among the hacker community. "They make a game out of it," he says. "(OpenVHS leader) Theo [de Raadt] will scramble to make a new patch to fix one problem, and they've already compromised a bunch of boxes with a different exploit."

        With these incontroverible facts staring (what's left of) the *VHS community in the face, they can only draw one conclusion: *VHS is already dead.

[edit] Wired Writes an Epitaph

In 2004, Wired Magazine published an article in which it declared *VHS dead, once and for all. The article also declared DVD superior to *VHS.

        IT IS OFFICIAL; WIRED NEWS CONFIRMS: DVD IS SUPERIOR TO *VHS

                * VHS is Dying, Says Respected Journal

        DVD advocates have long insisted that open-source development results in better and more secure software. Now they have statistics to back up their claims.

        According to a four-year analysis of the 5.7 million lines of DVD source code conducted by five Stanford University computer science researchers, the DVD kernel programming code is better and more secure than the programming code of *VHS.

        The report, set to be released on Tuesday, states that the 2.6 DVD production kernel, shipped with software from Red Hat, Novell and other major DVD software vendors, contains 985 bugs in 5.7 million lines of code, well below the average for *VHS software. NetVHS, by comparison, contains about 40 million lines of code, with new bugs found on a frequent basis.

                * VHS software typically has 20 to 30 bugs for every 1,000 lines of code, according to a group of Carnegie Mellon University's pot-smoking hippies. This would be equivalent to 114,000 to 171,000 bugs in 5.7 million lines of code.

        The study identified 0.17 bugs per 1,000 lines of code in the DVD kernel. Of the 985 bugs identified, 627 were in critical parts of the kernel. Another 569 could cause a system crash, 100 were security holes, and 33 of the bugs could result in less-than-optimal system performance.

        Seth Hell, CEO of Covertitude, a provider of source-code analysis, noted that the majority of the bugs documented in the study have already been fixed by members of the DVD development community.

        "Our findings show that DVD contains an extremely low defect rate and is evidence of the strong security of DVD," said Hell. "Many security holes in software are the result of software bugs that can be eliminated with good programming processes."

        The DVD source-code analysis project started in 2000 at the Stanford University Computer Science Research Center as part of a large research initiative to improve core software engineering processes in the software industry.

        The initiative now continues at Covertitude, a software engineering startup that now employs the five researchers who conducted the study. Covertitude said it intends to start providing DVD bug analysis reports on a regular basis and will make a summary of the results freely available to the DVD development community.

        "This is a benefit to the DVD development community, and we appreciate Coverity's efforts to help us improve the security and stability of DVD," said Andrew Mumpkins, lead DVD kernel maintainer. Mumpkins said developers have already addressed the top-priority bugs uncovered in the study.

[edit] The Obituary

On September 9, 2005, *VHS was finally declared dead. The following obituary appeared in the Berkeley Observer:

        * VHS Obituary

        * VHS, 28, of Berkeley, CA died Monday, Sept. 19, 2005. Born July 3, 1976, it was the creation of a cluster of pot-smoking hippies who went to Illinois and came home with a reel of tape. Rather than smoke the tape, they uploaded it and hacked on it a little.

VHS was known for its reel tape and early spread of pornography. Until its death, there was almost constant fighting in and amongst these groups, sometimes degenerating into out-and-out fistfights.

VHS is survived by its successor DVD, as well as several commercial Internet Video implementations. It may be missed by some who knew it, although most of them are said to be mere movie dilettante dabblers.

A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at the Berkeley Chapel on the UC campus, with interment to follow via the burning of the original VHS tapes and scattering of the ashes over the San Francisco Bay. The Rev. Lou "Buddy" Stubbs will officiate.

The family will receive friends from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the funeral home.

* sporked from BSD is Dying *

DVD = VHS? (5, Interesting)

SolidAltar (1268608) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231717)

Except for TiVo there still remains no replacement for VHS's ease of use. Pop in a tape, hit record. I know that there are DVD recorders that can do this but at least a year ago you still had to worry about DVD type, ending a track, etc.

A large portion of the populace does not have a TiVo or a DVD recorder - meaning they lost functionality.

Re:DVD = VHS? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231767)

My stepfather has a DVD recorder, and it works almost exactly like a VHS recorder, except the picture quality is better and you can jump to individual recorded shows more easily. I don't really see the need anymore though - I tend to rent TV shows rather than watch them over-the-air, so I avoid adverts and BBC content I can grab from iPlayer easily. It's not so much the loss of functionality, as the changing usage patterns. When I grew up, broadcast TV was relatively scarce and it was common to collect loads of films recorded from TV. Now, it is cheap to rent access to a much larger collection than you could collect yourself (and then you don't have to worry about storage either).

Re:DVD = VHS? (1)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231803)

There are hard drive recorders available. Most are from $200 to $300. Same ease of use - except faster and better, and able to record more than one channel at a time. VHS is dead. And someone should cut it's head off and fill it's mouth with garlic, for we really don't need it anymore.

Re:DVD = VHS? (2, Funny)

retiredtwice (1128097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232029)

I absolutely agree. I do not have a TIVO because in my household tapes get recorded in 2 different places and are never watched at the taping location. Besides, why should I pay someone a monthly fee when I can set up VHS recorders for nothing.

DVD recording is not very easy (yes I have one) but the VHS tapes are transportable from room to room so you can be watching and recording at the same time. Besides, VHS tapes will last for many many recordings whereas DVDs do not (cheaply, at least).

And in the case of wife keeping up with episodes, once set up, she doesn't need to do anything except put a new tape in once or twice a week. And she watches in either of 3 places so you just grab the tape and put it in. Quality is not an issue either. 6 hr mode for these shows is plenty good.

I do have to throw out the occasional tape because it won't sync right (stretches along the edge where the track is) but DVDs are very fragile and prone to damage.

As far as I am concerned, the demise of VHS is a giant step backwards in the scheme of things taking away more personal capability and flexibility so the cable folks can earn more money by charging us for TIVO and TIVO-type devices.

And yes, when the cable companies decide to not transmit analog over the air, I expect to have big problems (probably a couple of years, comcast assured me 3 years but I don't trust them). Losing the flexibility of the remotes for regular TV is something I do not look forward to.

This tendency to make us pay for every minute of watching TV that is absolutely saturated with commercials is a giant scam and you all know it.

My rant for todsy.

Now, GET Off my lawn....

And when will Blu-Ray players get afforable? (3, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231721)

Ah yes, never. In a related point, Sony lays off thousands. That's some great plan you got there, Lou.

Re:And when will Blu-Ray players get afforable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232233)

To be fair, if you can afford a HDTV then $300 for a Blu-ray player is probably in your price range; that they include standard RCA cables with every Blu-ray player is a fucking joke. More important is the price of Blu-ray movies. Older releases are out at a "generous" $15 or so. New releases are a ridiculous $30 or more. I would get a Blu-ray player now if the movies weren't so expensive. A one-time investment of $300 is one thing, but $30 a pop for movies will add up really quickly.

Missing metatag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231723)

How on earth can a story about VHS not be tagged as pr0n?

Posted anonymously so my ex and her lawyer won't use it against me!!!

Security systems (3, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231733)

Don't most store security systems use VHS tapes for their security cameras?

If they switch to non-erasable DVD, there's going to be a metric ton of these that just go to waste every day.

Re:Security systems (4, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231751)

Don't most store security systems use VHS tapes for their security cameras?

If they switch to non-erasable DVD, there's going to be a metric ton of these that just go to waste every day.

Nah ... they'll just go on hard disk. They just put in a bunch of security cameras at work (all IP-based) and I'm sure the feeds are going to some hard drive array somewhere.

Re:Security systems (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231757)

Don't most store security systems use VHS tapes for their security cameras?

If they switch to non-erasable DVD, there's going to be a metric ton of these that just go to waste every day.

Many (most?) record to hard drive nowadays. In fact, many of the cameras are designed for use with standard PCs.

Re:Security systems (1)

pseudopawn (968156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231775)

Don't most store security systems use VHS tapes for their security cameras?

If they switch to non-erasable DVD, there's going to be a metric ton of these that just go to waste every day.

I would think instead of using a VHS tape or DVD the video would just be stored to a hard drive for say a week or month and then recorded over.

Re:Security systems (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231819)

Hmmm...
This conversation makes me wonder what the storage capacity of a VHS tape is. An hour's worth of video is a non-trivial amount of data.
On the other hand, VHS used a very low resolution.

Re:Security systems (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231867)

Quite large [google.com] ! (But horrifically poor retention quality.)

Re:Security systems (2, Insightful)

flajann (658201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231949)

Hmmm... This conversation makes me wonder what the storage capacity of a VHS tape is. An hour's worth of video is a non-trivial amount of data. On the other hand, VHS used a very low resolution.

There was a time where the VHS format was used as a "poor man's" data backup, as was done at one place I worked at back in the 80's. Damned unreliable and always have drop-outs. I forget how much data was storable in that format, but it was dinky compared to what we can do today.

Then again, there was also a time casette tapes (remember those?) were used for data backup. But now I am really dating myself. :-)

Re:Security systems (3, Interesting)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232077)

There was also a time that cassette tapes were used for [b]primary[/b] data storage. ;)

Re:Security systems (1)

Keruo (771880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232053)

I have Danmere backer card somewhere in my storage shelves.
That device converted data to video signal and basically turned your vcr into tape storage drive.
It managed to store something like ~1GB/hour with normal vhs tape.

Problem with the technique was that the card had no way of controlling the vcr.
You had to play the whole 3 hour tape through to restore single file if I recall correctly.

Re:Security systems (2, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232209)

mmm, pretty high actually. Remember that while the resoloution was low by modern standards there was absoloutely no use made of data compression techniques. The composite video signal was more or less (there were some complications due to the recording gaps created by the helical scan system) recorded directly onto the tape.

most home recordable VHS tapes can store either three or four hours of PAL video at thier standard speed (tapes used for prerecorded releases are usually shorter and I have seen five hour tapes availible for sale before), according to wikipedia NTSC vhs tapes use a higher tape speed and therefore store less hours) most later VCRs also support "long play" and "extended play" modes which cram more onto the tape (at the cost of lower quality).

Wikipedia reckons VHS tape has about 3mhz of bandwith (they don't say if that is at PAL or NTSC tape speeds, i'm assuming NTSC since I suspect the wikipedia article was written from american sources) with a SNR of 43db.

If we assume the noise is white guasian noise then per the shannon-hartly theorem.

43db expressed as a power ratio is approximate 20000 the base 2 logarithm of this is approximately 14

per the shannon-hartly theorem (ignoring the +1 since it is negligable) with such a large SNR) this would give a maximum achivable reliable data rate of 14*3=42Mbps

multiply that by 10000 seconds (about 3 hours) and you get a theoretical capacity of about 52GB.

Of course considerations of maintaining reliability with poor quality equipment and the fact that perfect codecs don't exist mean the real capacity given by products that used vhs tape for data storage was much lower. Typically a few gigabyte per tape IIRC.

Re:Security systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231897)

If they're still recording it using VHS tapes I'm guessing they've got enough for their cycle, and it's the players that took a turn for the worse, not the tapes.

VHS says, call me in 30 years. (5, Insightful)

SynapseLapse (644398) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231755)

When you try to play your DVD-RWs. No, seriously. I've got a Hauppauge PVR150 in my desktop (Salvaged from the sad remains of the first Mythbok that died...) and I've been using it rip my parents old home movies recorded to VHS. These tapes are 20 years old and play great. The question is, what the heck can I burn it to so it might survive 30 more years?

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231787)

The question is, what the heck can I burn it to so it might survive 30 more years?

Amazon S3 _and_ tape?

You will want multiple copies, in different formats, in different locations. Can't get much better than those two.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231801)

Rip it to ogg theora or mpeg2, specially mpeg2 is unlikely to be dropped since it's so widely used. The physical media no longer matters, replicate multiple times, there won't be any loss, burn it to CD, DVD, copy to a hard drive, etc.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231875)

The *real* question is, who cares? Do you want to watch your parents' 30 year old home movies? How about your grandparents' 60 year old home movies? And what about your great-grandparents' 90 year old home movies? At some point, nobody is going to care; nothing lasts forever, nor should it. I call this the irrelevance factor. For the majority of us, after enough time passes our lives are pretty much irrelevant. The world marches on without even knowing you ever existed. How well do you know your great-grandparents? Someday, that's going to be us; relics of the past, long forgotten.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231941)

Although I agree with you, one cannot deny how gracefully that VHS tapes degraded. I guess that's why it's hard for us to completely write off analog formats: My VHS copy of Mission Impossible 1 definitely has streaking on it. My DVD copy of hackers definitely stops playing a few minutes in thanks to a scratch.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231945)

Are you always this depressing? Or is it just Christmas?

You must be fun at parties.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231999)

In a not unrelated vein... The panic-mongers have an obsession with "OMG!!!!! Digital media is fragile, our digital age is going to disappear without trace!"

Well, quite honestly, it's true that digital media is pretty fragile and that (despite being perfectly suited to copying) much of it will be lost because it wasn't copied. But I'm damn willing to bet that there's so much digital media out there in various forms, being copied and recopied that our digital age will on balance leave behind *way* more than previous ones.

I guarantee that the digital age will no more disappear from history than previous ones; as a percentage of media produced, more may be lost, but do we really need to keep every damn bit anyway? In the absence of personal interest, there's going to be more than enough to give future generations a good picture of our society.

Matter of fact, I wonder if we're getting to the stage of retaining too much. (That's aside from the privacy issues involved in monitoring and recording our everyday lives). Do I really care if security camera footage of me eating my lunch is lost?

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (2, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232067)

I never knew my maternal grandfather, he passed away before my parents even met. He was a great hunter and fisherman, and I'm sure I'd be a far better outdoorsman if I'd had the opportunity to learn from him instead of teaching myself (I'm the only one in my family who's into that). I love the old pictures of him and his buddies that my mom has, with huge stringers of fish, or their hunting tally for the day. I wish there was video to go with those, but that was long before the era of home movies.

So yeah, people are going to care an awful lot about those old home movies some day.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (2, Insightful)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232083)

The *real* question is, who cares? Do you want to watch your parents' 30 year old home movies?

When I look at my shelves of books, for example, each spine lights up a universe of memories for me. My life would not be whole without them.

Our lives are made of nothing but memories. The more we lose the less we live.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232171)

Many historians would give an arm to watch Plato's home movies. For that matter, ANY home movies from that era would be highly valued today (if such a thing could exist). Yes, our individual significance tends to vanish over time, but at some point our time itself vanishes and historians then value any otherwise insignificant glimpse into daily life.

Well that's the problem (1)

g2devi (898503) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232183)

> The *real* question is, who cares?
> For the majority of us, after enough time passes our lives are pretty much irrelevant.

Well that may be the case for you, because history is irrelevant to you.

But if you could see the ebbs and flows and textures of history across many generations, you'd be able to see how significant a life can be and how seemingly minor events and decision can affect generations to come. You'd see that the winds of change that appear to erode any value and meaning out of life, do little more than blow away the irrelevant fluff off a person's life to reveal the deep grooves of that person's purpose.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (3, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232015)

print each frame as a still picture on good quality archival paper.

Re:VHS says, call me in 30 years. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232189)

print each frame as a still picture on good quality archival paper.

For playback, staple them together and flip!

Still have one (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231773)

I still have one, but I never buy disks for it. I dont really use DVDs that much even. The storage market has evolved enough that we dont really need it most of the time.

And I heard... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231781)

...the same supplier is providing video tape transfers to DVD for free.

That way we don't have to buy dvd copies of movies of already paid for.

Re:And I heard... (2, Informative)

flajann (658201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231985)

...the same supplier is providing video tape transfers to DVD for free.

That way we don't have to buy dvd copies of movies of already paid for.

But the quality -- the quality will sucketh big time.

Who was the last supplier? (1)

grahammm (9083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231841)

One thing the article does not state is the identity of the last major supplier of VHS tapes. I would guess it would be someone like 3M or BASF.

DVDs still don't have everything (3, Insightful)

Cookie3 (82257) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231873)

Although I haven't been in a store that sold new VHS tapes in years, I'm a little apprehensive.

While it is true that many shows have been re-released in DVD format, there are plenty of titles that did not (and/or will not) see re-release. In many cases, these aren't "essential" or "good" works, but film historians often use relics of the past to show the evolution of a director's style or the level of technological development at the time. They might also use these works to show the political climate of the country it was produced in, or as a source for historical evaluation.

If you need to make a film based in 1988, wouldn't it be nice if you had a lot of filmed material from 1988? What if you can't get access to what you know you need because it was all copyrighted, but never released on DVD? What if you can't find a collector who's willing to sell you their VHS tapes?

I don't think it's a fault so much of VHS going out of the market, but of copyright law. It's easy to find a VCR, or a tape deck or a record player, but finding a specific release from those mediums is nearly impossible without extensive searching, often commanding high prices from collectors. If that material was considered out of copyright, I could take my library and digitize it, throw up a torrent, and *poof* it's around for forever.. but because I can't, it will sit around until I'm an old man before there's even a glimmer of hope that it might be made available to the public.

Re:DVDs still don't have everything (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232031)

If that material was considered out of copyright, I could take my library and digitize it, throw up a torrent, and *poof* it's around for forever.. but because I can't, it will sit around until I'm an old man before there's even a glimmer of hope that it might be made available to the public.

No, you *can* do that. You just can't do it legally, but it hasn't stopped countless people doing it anyway.

I wonder if this has pushed the sale of what would have previously been considered obscure material in (e.g.) "complete series" form, whereas on VHS you'd have been lucky to get "best of" compilations or at best the series on 1001 bulky tapes with no extras.

Re:DVDs still don't have everything (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232117)

Or buy a server in some country that doesn't respect copyright, and put the movies on that server. Voila, problem solved.

Really? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231877)

I can buy tapes made by Maxell, Fuji, Emtec, Sony and Acme (at least I can buy all of them locally, did not try eBay...). Which manufacturer has stopped making tapes? I probably should buy a lot of them because I still record to VHS.

Now, I know DVD has higher video quality and is cheaper (the media at least), but can DVD recorders join recorded parts seamlessly (sp?) ? What I mean - When I am recording some TV show and a commercial starts, I just press stop on the VCR. When the commercial ends, I press record. The result is smooth, as if the commercial was never there. I can do the same when I connect two VCRs to cut commercials out of a TV show that I had recorded by setting the VCR to do so without my presence. Can DVD and/or hard drive recorders do so?

I ask because I used to record TV shows using my PC and a TV tuner, but I always had problems - the PC was too slow to start recording (like 5 seconds after I pressed "record" it actually started recording) and each recording was in a different file, sometimes the file did not have sound, or video...

I think this is about pre-recorded tapes (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231903)

I read (most of) the article, and as far as I can tell, this is about VHS tapes which have movies on them, not blanks for you to record on your own.

Re:Really? (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232039)

I can buy tapes made by Maxell, Fuji, Emtec, Sony and Acme (at least I can buy all of them locally, did not try eBay...). Which manufacturer has stopped making tapes?

Probably most if not all of them; I'm willing to bet that those are all made by a third-party contractor, probably one of very few remaining. VHS is the bottom of the market and likely too small to make it worth keeping their own facilities. Most "big name" video recorders are now made by other companies anyway for similar reasons.

Most of them don't even make their "own" DVDs and CDs...

Re:Really? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232107)

Probably. At least on Acmes site they say that their cassettes are made with BASF and ECP tape (it is not written where the shells are made)...

It seems that Fuji is still making SVHS tape, though I can't buy it locally (I do have one SVHS VCR, and have tried recording SVHS signal on VHS tape, and while the result is of higher quality than VHS I usually record VHS signals for greater compatibility).

User Interface (4, Funny)

AtomicSnarl (549626) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231885)

Almost as sad as the people still using it.

You push it in the slot, push Play, and it works. No menus to wander, no special features to get in the way, no Director's Cut, no frigging mind games with some dinky remote with tiny print and bitty buttons to poke at to get the bloody thing to play, now. Get off my lawn! Damn kids these days... Harumph. Where did I put my bifocals?

This message sponsored by AARP, because you'll be old someday, too!

No unskippable ads (3, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231943)

While I mostly like DVD's, there is one thing about them that have always angered me. With VHS, you could pop in the tape, hit Fast Forward, and cruise by the 10 minutes of crap at the front of the tape (Copyright Warning, obsolete trailers, etc). I sure wish some DVD maker would produce a unit that would let me skip right to the main menu on a DVD, instead of forcing me to sit through that first 5-10 minutes of filler. I just want to watch the movie, already, and it seems to me that if it's *my* DVD player, it ought to obey *me*, not the disc producer.

Re:No unskippable ads (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232045)

I particularly like how they write "forbidden" or somesuch on the screen when you try.

DVD Player that comes with OS X seems to let you skip. I have a REALLY old DVD player that does as well.

Re:No unskippable ads (2, Informative)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232059)

Amen. I just watched a movie on tape that I haven't re-bought on DVD yet. While I was amazed at how bad the picture quality was compared to the DVDs I'm used to now, the one thing that was very nice was being able to just fast-forward through all that bullshit at the beginning that I'm now used to having to sit through.

I used to have a DVD player that let me do what I want... it was GE-branded but my understanding was it had Apex guts. Some Apex players had a 'secret' menu that let you set them to ignore 'no skip' flags and other stuff, and also let you set the player to be whatever region you wanted or shut the region crap off entirely. When this was discovered, Apex players got yanked off store shelves in the US. Do some googling, I'm sure you can still get your hands on one somehow. Mine died about a year ago, and I just bought a run-of-the-mill Sony to replace it.

~Philly

Re:No unskippable ads (5, Informative)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232089)

That err, "feature", is called the User Operation Prohibition [wikipedia.org] flag. Some DVD players can be patched to disregard the UOP, others disregard the UOP by default. Do a web search if you're interested... I note it's also considered DRM, which just shows exactly whose "rights" are being preserved here.

Re:No unskippable ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26232095)

Just use AnyDVD.

VHS alive and well in Croatia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26231901)

In an unfortunate choice of name the Croatians have named their new assault rifle VHS.

I suppose it could have been given a worse name... such as BETAMAX or HDDVD.

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2008/12/16/new-croatian-vhs-assault-rifle/

But hang on to one, anyway. (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 5 years ago | (#26231969)

Even though I no longer own any VHS tapes myself, I have a dual-player that I'm going to hang on to. My family has a lot of video memories that are still on VHS, and it's unlikely they'll be converted anytime soon.

In fact, I'll probably try to get a mid-range VHS player (one of the small ones) once I have a bit of extra cash, and just store that away. Either it will come in handy for myself, or in 50 years I can sell it for a tidy sum to someone who needs one.

I'm also reminded of a certain Cowboy Bebop episode. Of course, they actually needed a Betamax player and got a VHS deck at first, but the same idea holds.

This isn't about blank VHS media, folks! (5, Informative)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232025)

I RTFA (hey, it's Christmas!) and using my advanced English comprehension skills can hereby inform you that it's about what's apparently the last major supplier of content in the VHS format in the USA giving up on VHS. It says nothing about manufacturers of VHS media (aka blank tapes) stopping production.

I bet blank tapes will be available for a good few years yet.

title is misleading. (1)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232165)

this is about REDISTRIBUTOR, not a blank VHS producer or publishing house. really the whole snippet is very misleading.

sad as the people still using it? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26232173)

BS, why should someone change when what they have works fine?

Just because its new and shiny and you don't care doesn't make you a sad loser. It means you don't succumb to marketing.

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