A Fairly Ridiculous Amount of People Still Own VCRs

    January 10, 2014
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

The list of “things that killed the VCR” is pretty lengthy – I mean, just start naming semi-recent technological advancements in the way human beings consume TV and movies and you have your list right there. Digital cable, DVDs, Netflix, DVR – the VCR, though perfectly useful in its time, is simply a relic of the past.


Well, not exactly. Gallup recently conducted a poll concerning Americans and their tech preferences, and there’s a lot of good data there. But the most interesting piece of data (at least to me), is the one that says 58% of American adults still have a VCR. Sure, that’s dropped from 88% in 2005, but still. 58%?

In fact, here’s a list of things that, according to the Gallup research, are found with less frequency in an American home than a VCR.

  • Desktop computers (57%)
  • Dumb phones (45%)
  • iPod (45%)
  • Gaming console (41%)
  • Streaming service (39%)
  • Tablets (38%)
  • Satellite TV (34%)
  • E-readers (26%)

Yes, Americans apparently own VCRs at more than double the rate of Kindles.

As you might expect, VCR viewership is more common among older adults. While only 41% of those aged 18-29 still own a VCR, 74% of those aged 65 and older do.

I guess grandpa still needs some way to record those golf tournaments.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • http://www.theconfidencecure.com Asoka Selvarajah

    I still have one!

    It’s not about recording in that format, but rather being able to replay valuable tapes you might have. For instance, I have a number of business courses in VHS. There is at least one concert I know of (Tom Waits) that never got released on DVD. And so on. Actually though, I have converted the majority of tapes to DVDs, but you still have to keep the machine, just in case (e.g. the DVD goes bad, or you find a VHS tape you have not converted).

    Likewise, I STILL have several tape CASSETTE playing devices (shock!). It’s not about recording in this format though. Again, I have a VAST tape collection and it would be beyond a nightmare to try and convert them all to CD.

    So, in all, there are very good reasons for these statistics.

  • JT

    I have several. From top of the line Fisher units to more prosaic $20.00 players that were sold at KMart toward the end of that era. There’s just something about the image that is softer and more warm than today’s ultra resolution displays.

    Sometimes, I just feel nostalgic and want the 80’s experience all over again. Air pop some popcorn. Fire up the Fisher FVH 5550 and watch The Breakfast Club on a Sony Trinatron. Too bad I don’t have a girlfriend with big hair, Jordache Jeans and LA Gear sneakers to complete the package.

  • CB

    What is so wrong with owning VCR’s. I have all the Disney movies on VCR
    and I refuse to buy new. My husband and I also have relic cell phones. There really is no need to buy new when they work perfectly fine and we both hate to text. Nothing wrong with sitting at home and watching a good movie on tape.

  • Karen

    For my family I have children in a vast range of ages. My older ones had VHS tapes and we couldn’t afford cable or satellite. When the VHS technology began phasing out I bought a wealth of VHS tapes from yard sales and thrift stores so we were rich with them. Now that I have a little ne again I have decided to weed through the VHS tapes that we have and whichever ones seem to be his favorites are getting slowly replaced by DVDs. Also, we frequently find VHS tapes in local thrift stores that I can preview for a buck or two. If my little one really likes it then I can upgrade to DVD along the way but if he doesn’t really like it then I can simply donate the VHS back to the thrift store. And like the other commenters sometimes I just want the nostalgia AND some movies cannot be found on DVD easily. We have home movies, a childhood favorite called Savannah Smiles and some of mama’s favorites… The Waltons and The Frugal Gourmet. :)

  • Angela

    I have a VHS and refuse to get rid of it. DVDs are notorious for pixelating, scratching and just not playing – including DVDs right out of the box. I’ve started collecting VHSs of films I want to watch several times. A study a few years back showed that DVDs only had a lifespan of 10 years. Some of the new ones don’t even last that long – and I take very good care of them! VHS has much better sound than DVDs. (I don’t have to turn my volume all the way up to listen to a VHS.) The picture is good on more recent VHSs, while older ones definitely show their age. Still, if I had to chose, I’d go VHS all the way. They are sturdy, with a longer lifespan.

    • http://truedaughterofmary.blogspot.com Megan@TrueDaughter

      This is exactly why we still own and continue to purchase VHS. DVDs are so fragile! Our young sons use the VHS all the time! They are notorious for trashing DVDs, but we have a HUGE collection of VHS to keep them busy…We still buy VHS players when we can find them because of this.

  • VCR Owner

    The reason 20 somethings don’t have VCRs is because they never bought them to begin with. Older consumers have them because they were adults when they came out and they have them stashed away or sitting on a shelf. I have at least 3 of them (2 are SVHS quality) along with loads of other stuff (like 480p DVD home theater systems, analog TVs and converter boxes for digital reception, etc, etc, etc). The point is we live in a consumer society where planned obsolescence is the norm and almost all the technology we have is tossed or stored on a yearly basis (if not quarterly).