58% of Americans Still Have a VCR in Their Homes

And they probably still can't program them
More
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worth noting nonetheless: Even as Blockbuster closes, even as DVDs and Blu-rays and streamed-from-the-cloud videos have superseded the humble cassette tape, more than half of Americans are holding on to their VHS players.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

 

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


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

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In