Two weeks ago I wrote that my old television set had seen its best days and that I was awaiting a replacement. I’m all set now, with a new flatscreen unit and a technologically upgraded cable package. As I made the transition, I decided it was time to say goodbye to my 22-year-old VCR machine. Here it is, pictured above, unplugged and soon to be disposed of, after many years of steady service.
Despite my enjoyment of movies, I was a latecomer to VCRs. Living in New York, I was happy to see old films in the city’s several revival movie theaters, and I was living on a tight budget to boot. But as VCRs became commonplace and more affordable, I finally took the plunge. In the summer of 1992, I went to an electronics store, pretty much arbitrarily picked out a VCR (my usual quick-hit approach to shopping), and set it up in my Brooklyn apartment.
I wouldn’t want to estimate how many hours I spent watching movies using my VCR that summer, as the answer would be highly suggestive of addictive behavior. Suffice it to say, however, that I was a loyal supporter of video stores near work and home. As I wrote last year in a lament over the closing of Blockbuster video stores, it was such a treat to survey the shelves of these stores in search of old favorites and new discoveries.
Given how many movies have played on that machine, it’s something of a miracle that it lasted so long. Over the past decade, of course, I’d morphed over to DVDs, but on the few occasions when only a VCR version of a movie or show was available, I could pop in the cassette and watch it.
I tend to be resistant to jumping to new technologies right away, so these days I find myself preferring DVDs to streaming video. My Netflix subscription still includes the discs, and I continue to get a short spark of little-kid-like happiness when a red envelope shows up in my mailbox. Alas, my luck with DVD players has not been as good, and it looks like I’ll be buying a new one soon. Perhaps I’ll upgrade to a high-def model. They seem to have dropped in price in recent years, and now I have a TV set that justifies the purchase.