The Internet has done many wonderful things for the people of this planet. It has brought us closer together (and yet driven us farther apart) and it has placed information (sometimes not always accurate) at our fingertips. The world of entertainment has probably been the most affected. If you want to watch a movie or TV show head to the Internet and chances are you can find it. For everyone that lives today on the World Wide Web it is important to understand just how good we all have and with the news of the closure of all but one final Blockbuster store we can do that.

How you used to watch movies at home

Back in the good ol’ days if you wanted to watch a movie that you didn’t have recorded on VHS or could borrow from a neighbor you had only one option: the video store. Blockbuster stores across the country began opening in 1985 in Dallas, Texas when founder and oil and gas software developer David Cook was urged by his wife to get into the video rental business. He bought into an existing rental service in Dallas but wanted to paint the interior of his store differently and decided to go it on his own, opening the first store with the name Blockbuster. His store had an inventory of 8,000 VHS tapes and 2,000 Beta tapes. Blockbuster was certainly not the first but it was the largest and the most famous.

Blockbuster stores began to pop up all across Texas and video games were soon incorporated into the fold. When DVDs were becoming popular in the late 1990s a deal with Warner Brothers put them in Blockbuster to rent before they became available to the general public. They were hardly confined to the rental business even partnering with Enron (you remember them right?) to create a Video On Demand service though that was terminated since Enron did not believe Blockbuster would provide sufficient titles for the service. It was at that same time that Blockbuster was offered the chance to buy the fledgling video service Netflix for $50 million but passed as it was losing money at the time. Oops!

A quick downfall

At its peak in 2004 the chain had over 9,000 stores but the decline was beginning. Stores outside of the US began to be closed, some of its holdings had to be sold off and others emerged as competitors on the newly popular Internet. In 2010 Blockbuster was delisted from the NYSE and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Stores continued to close at record rates with two stores closing in Alaska in July leaving only one remaining store in Bend, Oregon. It was believed that the stores in Alaska could survive owing to the high cost of Internet service in the state but they were not able to it seems.

Killed by the Internet

With high speed Internet and video streaming services that produce little to no interruption any chance of a physical video rental service surviving are next to none. Even automated kiosks like Redbox may not survuve. With thousands of teenagers in the 80s, 90s and 00s working at one of these locations there is a bit of nostalgia as once again technology has put people out of work. Video streaming services are extremely popular (and affordable) and most people have not thought twice about never having to get into the car, drive to the nearest video rental store, praying that the movie that they want is there and then paying for it. Yep, kids today will never know the pain that came when the person before you couldn’t have the common courtesy of rewinding the tape…

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