Betamax the alternative system to VHS that we all thought was dead anyway (but apparently it isn’t) will be finally laid to rest in 2016, 28 years after losing the epic battle with VHS. Set your alarms to march 2016 when the final Betamax Tape will be manufactured. This particular format was developed by Sony in the 1970’s and ended up in a bitter war with VHS with the winner having the open market to itself. Funnily enough Betamax did offer better video quality initially. JVC was offered a licence to use Betamax by Sony but they decided to design their own format as they didn’t want to be controlled by Sony.
Did you ever own a Betamax Video player or are you VHS through and through?
In 1974, the Japanese ministry of international trade and industry decided, for the sake of consumers, that it would attempt to force the Japanese electronics manufacturers to standardise on one format, rather than have multiple incompatible formats.
Sony initially won favour of the Japanese government due to having come to market first. To fight the proprietary format, JVC convinced its major stakeholder Matsushita, Japan’s largest electronics manufacturer, responsible for the Panasonic and National brands, to back VHS. Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Sharp followed suit with JVC launching a VHS player in 1976, leading the Japanese government to abandon its video format plans and the eventual war.
VHS became a more open and widely adopted format for the video cassette, which resulted in a larger economy of scale, allowing VHS to beat Betamax on price.
That greater adoption and lower cost saw the pornography industry pick VHS as the format of choice for its home videos, which is largely considered the turning point that propelled VHS to victory.
In 1988, Sony conceded victory to the rival format producing its first VHS video cassette recorder. Sony’s last Betamax recorder was produced in 2002, but the company will continue to produce tapes until March 2016.
Video cassettes lingered until the introduction of the DVD in 1995 by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic. Movie studios adopted the format for its superior video quality and durability, initially leading to DVD players only, not recorders.
The Good Old Days…
Who was buying Betamax up until 2002? There are so many ways of recording video now and what will be the format of the future. The DVD industry was massive but there is a decline and it will accelerate as time goes on. RIP Betamax.