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End of an era: Sony to stop making Betamax tapes

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I had no idea Betamax tapes were still being made. I haven't seen one in stores here in Japan since the early 90s.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I was a Betamax customer in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was so upset when VHS won the battle. I had more than 1,000 movie son Beta tapes and had to replace them all.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Wow! Blast from the past. I am with @Speed on this one. I had no idea they were still making these things.

It is not often that you can talk about things that actually really changed the world. But Sony did with Betamax. Heck, it even has a U.S. Supreme Court case named after it, a case that Sony won and that we have all benefited from as a result.

Thanks for the memories, Sony!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I can't say I know the particular economics of continuing to sell these tapes to "die-hard fans", but IF there were financial losses(or even slim profits) you have to question why Sony, a company searching for a future, didn't throw in the towel years ago.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

For me, this is the most surprising news of the year. I thought they stopped making Beta max tapes in the 80's when people switched to VHS.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I always thought Laserdisc were the oldest things I seen a Book off apparently there must be betamax tapes in there as well.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The tapes were used at broadcast stations to archive programs.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sony still made them!? It's no wonder they're losing money hand over fist!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Surprising how few people know how widespread Betamax was in the broadcast and film industries.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Betamax is / was used at TV stations for a long time. Smaller and slightly better quality. With the rise of DAT and digital formats can't see anyone using it anymore.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A very old friend of mine is a veteran of the video wars. A Japanese chap with excellent English, he was very high up at Sony. According to him, Betamax was always the better technology but the marketing and intellectual property folks seriously dropped the ball. Panasonic and friends gave VHS technology away to one and all (to embed the standard in the market) while some idiots and Sony held on until it was too late. The other thing that was not much reported at the time was that the video wars made some companies mortal enemies of one another. Sony was really peaved at certain manufacturers who defected to the VHS standard. Those animosities are apparently still alive and well some thirty years later.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

End of an era: Sony to stop making Betamax tapes.

Was anyone else struck by the irony/contrast of the above headline leading the "Business" section, while the one below leads the "Technology" section?

Apple sets release this week of iPad Pro

Could not have captured the contrast any more vivedly between the companies of the 21st century, and the has-beens of the last century if they tried. Apple, by market cap. is now one of the world's largest companies, and Sony's bonds are rated junk. And these two headlines explain why.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@jerseyboy. Well said. Kinda like The Flintstones vs The Jetsons.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

while some idiots and Sony held on until it was too late

Excuse me?

Sony was really peaved at certain manufacturers who defected to the VHS standard.

Peeved, yes, of course.

Those animosities are apparently still alive and well some thirty years later.

Again, of course.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Actually now in the nostalgia era, having a defunct-style movie or music player is kind of cool. I have a laserdisc, VHS and cassette player and sometimes use them when I want to reminisce the 80s and 90s. Just did a Lethal Weapon laserdisc marathon last week in fact.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

One major fault of the Betamax machines was that they kept the playback/ recording heads in contact with the tape during rewind or fast-forward operations, leading to higher rates of head wear and stretching of the tapes; VHS machines moved the heads away from the tape, resulting in less wear and less problems with tape stretching.

A digital version called DigiBeta is still used in some studios, along with their more modern digital DVCAM and HDCAM tapes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@presto I don't know what it is like these days, but way back when there were two major strategies with respect to technologies. One was to keep them on a short leash (the proprietary approach) and the other was to give them away (the open approach). The attraction of the first was to be able to control everything, the attraction of the second was to grow the market quickly. The philosophy in both cases was to control the technology paths (how technology moves from Point A to Point B). Both strategies have their advantages and pitfalls.

Anyway, Sony (the intellectual property folks) decided that they wanted to control Betamax, while Panasonic decided that they would give VHS away. The outcome of this was that VHS sales (through multiple manufacturers and brands) far outpaced Betamax sales (from Sony). Thus, despite Betamax being the better technology, VHS was in everybody's living room. By the time Sony realized their mistake it was too late.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

End of an era: Sony to stop making Betamax tapes

Good Lord. Is it 1986 already?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sayonara betamax. I always thought Beta was crap because Al Bundy had it! never realized it was as superior format until much later on....Made for a great ESL lesson. Using despite and even though along with the dvorak keyboard.....My family got a Fisher VHS in 1982, man I felt cool back then!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Didn't I see this article in The Onion about 9 years ago?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

End of an era: Sony to stop making Betamax tapes

WTH!?!?

HongoTAFEinmate: @presto I don't know what it is like these days, but way back when there were two major strategies with respect to technologies. One was to keep them on a short leash (the proprietary approach) and the other was to give them away (the open approach).

'short leash approach' == Apple

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@turbostat Yes, definitely in its modern incarnation (Jobs Mark 2). Not many people remember that prior to Steve Jobs returning to the company, Apple actually loosened the leash and there were a series of Mac Clones. However, when Jobs returned that all went out the Window. Actually, the Windows vs. Mac paradigm is a good example of the two approaches. The reason why Windows has such a huge market share is that Gates and friends basically gave the OS away to anyone. Jobs, etc., have tried to keep their OS in house. Cannot think of any other good examples at the moment, maybe the DVD format? Feel free to chip in.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I thought it was more that Gates wasn't locked into a house-built hardware design like Apple was, and he only benefited when companies started making cheap PC clones to run his O/S on. Maybe (can't exactly remember), IBM didn't lock down the AT hardware specs, thus cheap clones. And when IBM tried to go proprietary with microchannel, it was too late and people didn't go for it.

Don't really remember the permitted Apple clones, but do remember the Franklin, and it looks like Apple fought hard against that one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Electronic_Publishers#Early_history

Seem to remembert that the Amiga with its coprocessors were technically superior, guess they missed out somewhere, finally, in manufacturing volume, marketing, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and that about sums up the japanese electronics industry, trying to hang on to past glories that are long dead.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Actually, the Windows vs. Mac paradigm is a good example of the two approaches.

I disagree - both are proprietary and use the short-leash approach, Windows just gives a little more leash than Apple does. The open approach would be Unix.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No surprise news. Betamax has not been targeted for private use for decades, but as a few others pointed out, the format was used by many local tv stations and people who work professionally with video formats. Now i wonder if there will be any VIDEO 2000 news popping up as well at some point, as that was the third format battling Betamax and VHS back in the days. And of course earlier on there has been even other tape formats, like Telcon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Video 3000 was superior to both VHS and Betamax.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Jerseyboy,

Was anyone else struck by the irony/contrast of the above headline leading the "Business" section, while the one below leads the "Technology" section?

Excellent comment!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@DaDude Interesting nostalgia trip. Just made me wonder if Pioneer is still making laserdiscs/players or if it went the same way as the RCA Video Disc. In recent years it seems there's an increase of combo retro audio players, like a recent one from Teac, a turntable/cassette tape/CD system. It'd be interesting if the same happens for video as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm more surprised at the news that

Sony stopped making Betamax recorders in 2002

DJs worldwide were dismayed when Panasonic appeared to simply dump the Technics brand around 2004, but continued to produce the SL 1200 turntable until 2010. Still sought after, there's a petition to relaunch the record player onto the market. Panny apparently revived the Technics brand last year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I didn't know they still made the format. I do remember it way way back when I was a kid. A good economics lesson, Dont make a product then refuse to let anyone also make it or use it. That is what killed betamax, anyone could license VHS, sony wouldnt allow licensing to other manufacturers, so no one used it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not really there were more companies in the Betamax camp other then Sony. Sony didn't ban anything they just asked for loyalty fee to be paid for each machine the third party sold while Panasonic basically gave it out for free.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@jerseyboy

Could not have captured the contrast any more vivedly between the companies of the 21st century, and the has-beens of the last century if they tried. Apple, by market cap. is now one of the world's largest companies, and Sony's bonds are rated junk. And these two headlines explain why.

The key reason that Sony has continued to produce Betamax tape is because it has been the standard in professional video. What you're basing your opinion on is incomplete information, because like just about everyone, you know that Sony lost the consumer Betamax/VHS war in the early 1980s. So as far as you're concerned it's a dinosaur format that they've been clinging to. But that isn't the whole story; Sony has always been a major player in the pro video and the broadcast market, and that has been the main role of Betamax for the last 35 years.

It's not the way Sony would have wanted it, presumably, but it's hardly a total disgrace either. They're still a viable company producing good products - if you doubt it, look at some reviews of their digital SLRs, where they compete on equal terms with the traditional giants of the SLR world despite being new to that field. Then read some reviews of Samsung SLRs.

There doesn't have to be an Apple-Sony pissing contest, they are not working in completely overlapping areas, as you can see from the product lines of the two companies.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

While Betamax was still peak, Sony's inventor teams were working to create DVD. So, when DVD came out, I bought 1,000 DVD then found Sony inventors created HD and later ..... this was before Sony was screwed up by British CEO.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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