The Video Home System, better known by its abbreviation VHS, is a recording and playing standard developed by Victor Company of Japan, Limited (JVC) and launched in September 1976, with The Young Teacher being the first movie to be released and A History of Violence, released on home video in 2006, being the last in the North American market. By the 1990s, VHS became a standard format for consumer recording and viewing, after competing in a fierce format war with Sony Corporation's Betamax and, to a much lesser extent, Philips' Video 2000, MCA's Laserdisc and RCA's Capacitance Electronic Disc.
VHS initially offered a longer playing time than the Betamax system, and it also had the advantage of a far less complex tape transport mechanism. Although VHS and Betamax were competing formats, several of VHS's critical technologies are licensed from Sony. Early VHS machines could rewind and fast forward the tape considerably faster than a Betamax VCR since they unthreaded the tape from the playback heads before commencing any high-speed winding. Most newer VHS machines do not perform this unthreading step, as head-tape contact is no longer an impediment to fast winding, owing to improved engineering.
The week of June 15, 2003 marked the first time the DVD format (which was launched in 1996) became more popular than VHS in the USA. Although still popular for home recording, the VHS tape has largely been replaced by DVD for pre-recorded home video content. By 2006, most major film studios stopped releasing new movie titles in VHS format, opting for DVD-only releases. Many leading retailers have stopped selling pre-recorded movies on VHS, although VHS prerecorded cassettes are still popular with many collectors, mainly because there are thousands of titles that are still unavailable on DVD or other newer formats.