Goodbye Betamax

16 November 2015, 07:50

Sony has announced that in March next year it’ll stop manufacturing Betamax video cassettes. No, I didn’t know it still did, either. This follows the discontinuation of Betamax hardware in 2002 – not bad considering we’re talking about a video format that was introduced in 1975.

The reason for the ax finally falling? The removal in many countries of the analog TV signal. Digital TV killed the video star…

I’ve a soft spot for Betamax. It was the side of the video format religious war that I dedicated myself to back in the late 1980s as a school kid. This was largely because, even then, Betamax had become cheaper than VHS. I was also swayed by the (correct) argument that Betamax offered better image quality.

Here in the UK at least, video rental stores still had Betamax offerings at that time, although typically a store would be split around two-thirds VHS tapes, to one third Betamax.

I loved the size and format of Betamax tapes too. VHS tapes were large and clunky. They rattled. Betamax tapes felt small and well-made in comparison.

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