58% of Americans Still Have a VCR in Their Homes

And they probably still can't program them
Shutterstock/STILLFX

Last month, partly in preparation for the Consumer Electronics Show taking place in Vegas this week, Gallup polled Americans about the technologies they use in their homes. It then compared its findings to Americans' responses to the same questions posed to them in 2005.

Some of the takeaways: Cable TV has the same penetration in 2013—68 percent—as it did in 2005. Some 45 percent of Americans retain their non-smartphone cells. Some 73 percent of them have wifi in their homes—which, given Pew's 2013 finding that 85 percent of Americans have used the Internet at all, seems extraordinarily high. 

One other stat that seems high: 58 percent of Americans still have a VCR in their homes. This number is declining (in 2005, 88 percent said the same thing), but it's worth noting nonetheless: Even as Blockbuster closes, even as DVDs and Blu-rays and streamed-from-the-cloud videos have superseded the humble cassette tape, more than half of Americans are holding on to their VHS players. Likely this is because of one of the inefficiencies of analog tech: Things being things, if you have a VHS tape you want played, you will need a VCR to do the playing. Those home movies from 1987 aren't going to play themselves.

VCRs' half life might also have to do with the fact that, as machines, they aren't that big—easily tucked away in a garage or basement or attic.

There's also the outlying theory that people invested so much time into programming their VCRs—figuring out, for example, how to get its clock to stop claiming that it's always 12:00—that they were particularly loathe to part with them.

Regardless, Gallup's finding is a reminder that, despite our collective obsession with innovation, even gadgets that are decidedly un-innovative remain with us long after our romance with them ends. They stay, if not in our hearts, then in our homes—mostly unused, maybe, but not discarded.

Via Nancy Scola

 

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In