November 10th, 2015, 18:24 PM
Sony Says Farewell to Betamax Cassettes
First introduced in 1975, the Betamax, also known as "Beta," was the first popular consumer VCR on the market. And now, 40 years later, it's about to get a whole lot harder to find cassette tapes for the thing.
Sony, which has been selling Beta cassette tapes in Japan for the past four decades, announced Tuesday that it will finally stop producing them in March 2016. So, this means if you're still in possession of the vintage VCR, and a compatible video camera, you better stock up on some of the remaining cassette tapes pretty soon if you ever want to produce new content for your Betamax again.
But, chances are, you sold your Betamax at a garage sale years ago, and have no need for these vintage tapes. A year after Sony introduced the Betamax, rival Japanese tech giant JVC debuted the VHS format, and the rest is history.
Here's a fun fact for you: Betamax technology was actually considered better quality than VHS back in the day, and some people still use the term "Betamaxed" to refer to a superior technology overtaken by an inferior one.
One issue contributing to its demise — the first Betamax cassettes held only an hour of video while VHS supported full-length movies from the start. Sony eventually increased Betamax cassette capacity to two hours so they could hold an entire movie, and for several years pre-packaged movies were offered in both Beta and VHS. But by the late 1980s, Betamax had been "almost entirely eclipsed" by VHS.
Sony finally stopped producing the Betamax in 2002, and has not made a compatible camera for it in ten years.