Sony Announces They’re Officially Giving Up On Betamax
It’s been decades since Sony’s Betamax lost its battle against VHS for the home video market. Introduced commercially in 1975, the video cassette tapes started disappearing from homes and video store shelves in the 1980s as more and more consumers purchased VHS players. Now that VHS, too, has pretty much disappeared—and, as most forms of physical media seem to be dying out, Betamax truly feels like a relic of the distant past. Most people, if they remember the format at all, assume it was discontinued long ago.
But, surprisingly, that’s not the case. Long after Betamax players and tapes dipped in popularity, Sony continued to produce them. In fact, several major production companies continued to release Betamax versions of their films in small quantities well into the ‘90s (the last major film to be released on Betamax was 1996’s Mission Impossible). And, to this day, Sony continues to produce and sell blank Betamax tapes.
But now, the end is really here. This week, Sony announced their plans to officially discontinue production of the video format in March 2016—28 years after the format left the mainstream.
Though Betamax may be going out with more of a whimper than a bang, it’s worth noting that back in the ‘70s, the now-forgotten format helped revolutionize the way we watch TV. With Betamax (which Sony touted as a time-shift machine) viewers could, for the first time, watch their favorite movies and TV shows whenever they wanted—a luxury most of us take for granted nowadays.