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Sony Ending Betamax Production

11 Nov, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Brand synonymous with the launch of home video

Sony is pulling the plug on its venerable Betamax brand. The consumer electronics giant reportedly will cease shipping its memory media for Betamax by next March.

"This will make the final shipment of all our memory media for Betamax," Sony said in a statement, as reported by CNN.

While Betamax and rival JVC engaged in one of the first video format wars in the 1970s and 1980s, Betamax video tape holds a unique position in home entertainment history as the brand that took on and defeated Hollywood studios at the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984.

The court ruled Sony could continue selling its Betamax recorder despite legal objections from Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios. That decision paved the way for less-expensive competitor (and lower resolution) VHS's entry into the market and the evolution of VHS recorders, video stores and rental, including Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Family Video and Movie Gallery.

Ironically, Betamax’s role in home entertainment was actually a nonfactor due to its limited video capacity of about an hour, compared to two hours for VHS. Betamax’s superior picture and audio quality, however, made it popular for video recorders. Sony was manufacturing the Betamax video recorder as recently as 2002.


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