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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 05:26 GMT
Death of video recorder in sight
Video recorder
The VCR revolutionised viewing habits around the world
The death of the video cassette recorder appears to be in sight after the UK's largest electrical chain said it is to stop selling them.

Dixons will phase out VCRs due to the boom in DVD players, sales of which have grown seven-fold in five years.

It ends a 26-year love affair with a gadget which changed viewing habits by allowing people to leave home without missing their favourite programmes.

Dixons expects to sell its remaining stock of VCRs by Christmas.

The High Street retailer says demand for VCRs has fallen dramatically since the 1990s.

DVD charm

It aims to concentrate on their successor, the DVD which has charmed consumers with its speed and superior quality.

John Mewett, marketing director at Dixons, said: "We're saying goodbye to one of the most important products in the history of consumer technology.

I will miss a product that is better value for money than the one that caused its demise
Ed Karten, London

"The video recorder has been with us for a generation and many of us have grown up with the joys and the occasional frustrations of tape-based recording.

"We are now entering the digital age and the new DVD technology available represents a step change in picture quality and convenience."

The final nail in the coffin for VCRs is the low price of DVD players, which can now be bought for as little as 25.

The cost of DVD recorders are also falling to a level within reach of many consumers.

The BBC's business reporter Hywel Jones said: "So far Dixons is the only major chain to abandon sales of VCRs.

"But video cassettes are likely to join record players and Rubik Cubes as objects of nostalgic affection.

The first video cassette recorder went on sale at Dixons in 1978 priced 798.75 - the equivalent of about 3,000 in today's money.

It was made by Japanese electronics giant JVC and had a slot in the top to insert the tape and piano-style keys.

Betamax battle

The early 1980s saw a battle between VHS and its main competitor Betamax, from Sony.

VHS eventually won, largely because it was the format favoured by rental shops which many households used due to their cost.

By 1990 more than 200m video cassette recorders a year were sold worldwide.

However, there is still hope for VHS fans or those with large tape collections.

Currys, the sister company of Dixons, will continue to sell the machines for the time being.

Department store John Lewis also said it had no plans to phase them out.

Dan Knowles, director of buying for electrical and home technology at John Lewis, said: "Sales of VCRs are in decline but we still sell a lot of them.

"As long as there is a market for them we will continue to sell them."

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