The End of Betamax After Forty Years Of Production … No, Really!

sony-betamax-tape-logo-650According to The Guardian, Sony recently announced their intention to cease production of Betamax video cassettes next March. The end of the product comes after forty years of production and more than twenty years after people stop thinking about the product at all.

In the mid 1970s and early 80s, Sony's Betamax format and VHS — developed by Sony's rivals JVC — battled in the marketplace for dominance. Other companies eventually entered the fray, developing their own VHS compatible players. Though superior in quality, Sony's players and cassettes were more expensive. And, as noted by the Guardian, the porn industry adopted VHS, creating a much larger user base for the format.

But into the mid-80s, video stores still stocked Beta cassettes next to their VHS counterparts. In 1988, Sony admitted defeat and began to manufacture VHS players and tapes. By the end of the decade, Beta would seemingly vanish entirely. Surprising as it might seem, Sony continued to manufacture Betamax players until 2002.

Sony would also engage its competitors in another video format war in the early 21st Century when they introduced the Blu-ray Disc format. Rivals backed the HD-DVD standard with a handful of manufactures attempting to make players compatible with both formats. This format war ended when Warner Bros. announced it was going Blu-ray exclusive prior to the Consumer Electronics Show in 2008. HD-DVD's backers planned a party for the show, but quickly cancelled their event in the wake of the announcement. In February that year, Toshiba, the major force behind the format, announced plans to discontinue HD-DVD.

Meanwhile, the Guardian also reports VHS tapes continue to be manufactured.