VCR is an acronym for video cassette recorder, more commonly known as a video machine in some regions of the world. This device is used to record television shows on videotape cassettes to play back later and was invented in the 1950s. Often, a VCR is rectangular in shape and silver, black, or gray in color. The video tapes used in VCRs are much smaller, but also rectangular and usually black. Due to the popularity of the DVD player, VCRs have largely fallen out of favor but are still produced in smaller numbers.
With this device, a person can record one or more television programs, depending on the VCR. A popular feature is unattended recording, which allows a person to set the device to begin recording a certain time without further prompting. This feature was not available in early VCRs, but quickly became a major selling point after its initial introduction. It is now considered a standard feature in all later versions of the device.
The first VCRs were bulky, expensive, and could not record video for long; the device was also difficult to put together. These drawbacks were gradually fixed over the years as the technology advanced and VCRs were produced in bulk, making the product cheaper. While VCRs never became very light in weight, they did become more compact and easier to move from one place to another.
When VCRs started to become popular, the film companies in the United States cited copyright violation concerns and tried to halt VCR sales. There was much outrage regarding the potential use of VCRs. For the most part, however, the film companies had nothing to worry about; the judge ruled that VCRs are acceptable for non-commercial use, and eventually videotape cassettes became an extremely profitable industry all around the world.
Even with mass popularity at one point, the VCR never overcame certain flaws. For example, as the machine aged or became dirty, it would often ruin any videotape cassettes inserted. The magnetic tape of the cassette would be pulled out of the casing and twisted or broken. Even after decades of refinement and approaching the end of its popularity, the machine was frequently being designed and built to be simpler, with less features, and often had a shorter lifespan than older models. The stagnant evolution of the VCR and its increasingly poor craftsmanship made it easier for the DVD player to replace it.