Betamax was pioneered by Sony in the 1970s and utilized a magnetic tape to offer mainstream recording functionality. Initially, Sony tried to dominate the market and make Betamax the industry standard. However, JVC had other ideas and decided to make their own tape recorder called VHS. By 1980, the VHS format accounted for 60% of the North American market and signified the demise of Betamax.
Despite this, Sony’s failed format continued to sell reasonably well in Japan and can still be procured today. Although, Sony announced that Betamax sales will officially end in March 2016. It might surprise people in the west that old formats like Betamax are popular in Japan. Although, ancient electronics and retro games are often seen in various second-hand stores, and the “junk” section can contain broken Betamax players.
It’s important to remember how long the PlayStation 2 was in production throughout Japan. 40 years is a healthy lifespan given the format’s utter failure. I’m personally sad to see any piece of technology being retired, but it’s very niche in 2015. Modern media revolves around streaming which means dedicated players could become obsolete soon. Of course, 4K Blu-Rays could help prolong the lifespan of optical media, but its fate is sealed.
Are you still using VHS tapes? Perhaps, you’re a fan of the mighty LaserDisc format!