This was the worst commercial failure in Sony’s history

The competition between VHS and Betamax began in the late 1970s and lasted well into the 1980s. video players became more accessible, the race grew and in the end he won VHS.

betamax dominated the industry at first, but Sonyyour Creator, he refused to listen to the market and that led to the format to its final demise.

Betamax players were larger than VHS players.

The creation of the VCR

The VCR as a tape player It goes back further than you imagine. The company Ampex created the VCR in 1956 and called it the VRX-1000. It used a rotating head design to record video and audio onto a magnetic track and cost $50,000.

No one could afford to pay for something like this, and even if he could, he needed a technical of flesh and blood to help execute it. The VRX-1000 it also had a lifespan of a few hundred hours.

The strange thing was that it was not intended for television companiesSo who was it for? Despite the cost, some companies audiovisual content recognized the perspective of the new technology: they would not always have to depend on the television Live.

Companies could record their live programs in a movie to play them during the broadcast.

The Sony U-Matic and the progression of the VCR

A prototype of the first video recorder commercial debuted in October 1969 in Japan. Sony wanted to create a standard of the industry and did it with Sony U-Matic in 1971.

This was the first format of recording cassette tape video of the world. Use ribbons that were a little bigger than a ribbon VHS standard and they only had a maximum play time of 60 minutes.

Philips was also in this game and had released a format of home video cassette in 1970 but only for seasons from television.

It became available on the consumer market in 1972. the machine was called N1500, but Phillips had a unique name for this new format: Video Cassette Recordingeither VCR To abreviate.

There was only one format, but the concept of VCR was taking off. The industry flourished in the 1980s with 30% of households in the USA with a VCR in 1985. By 1995, it would be 85%.

But before the video recorder became commonplace in most homes, it would be split into two different formats: Betamax and VHS.

The creation of Betamax

Sony started in 1974 with a prototype for the recording from video called Betamax. At the same time, JVC was looking for a different format. This caused such a stir that Sony appealed to the Ministry of Commerce and Japan Industry.

It was at that moment that the format wars began without realizing it. Sony It released its first Betamax machines in 1975 and used cassette tapes that had a 0.50 inch wide tape inside.

Why was the name born Beta? The word has a double meaning: Beta is the Japanese word for how signals are recorded on tape, and the shape of the Greek letter B showed how the tape moved across the screen. machine.

The only problem that arose Sony from the beginning was the tape duration. For the television industry, previous machines had a tape length of one hour.

This made sense since most shows, including commercials, never lasted more than one time. This problem would help lead to its ultimate failure.

The creation of the VHS

Sony could have controlled the entire music industry. VCR, but his attempt to dictate the industry standard backfired. They had approached JVC to sell the patent betamax for what JVC I could do the manufacturing.

This had already happened with U-Matic and ended with Sony dominating the industry. JVC made the decision intelligent to decline the offer to create your own technology and format.

JVC had experimented with a new video recorder since 1971, and in 1977 introduced The Video Home System either VHS To abreviate.

JVC’s guidelines for VHS

JVC also devised a set of guidelines that would be paramount in the existence of VHS. He defined them as the “95 theses” of the industry of home videosbut JVC gave it a better name: The VHS Development Matrix:

  • The system must be compatible with any ordinary television set.
  • Picture quality should be like that of normal over-the-air broadcasts.
  • The tape must have at least a two-hour recording capacity.
  • Tapes must be interchangeable between machines.
  • The overall system must be versatile, meaning it can be scaled and expanded, such as connecting a video camera or folding between two recorders.
  • Recorders must be affordable, easy to operate and have low maintenance costs.
  • Recorders must be able to be produced in high volume, their parts must be interchangeable and they must be easy to maintain.

A big difference here is the fact that JVC he wanted his standard to be used by others manufacturers and did not control the way Sony I did it with Beta. JVC persuaded Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Sharp for them to sail on the VHS ship.

The key to duration

VHS used a video tape larger than the more compact and convenient Beta, but with one big difference: had a longer recording time.

A VHS tape could record 2 hourswhich was enough to cover most movies, including commercials, or four regular sitcoms.

It didn’t take long for the breakthroughs to happen. A video recorder VHS had different recording settings, like SP, LP and SLP.

It could also reduce velocity from the tape as it was recorded. This would reduce the quality but it would give you double and triple the capacity of storage.

The vhs cassette tape was big enough to hold 6 hours of recording without any problem. And this would be the centerpiece of the competition.

VHS and Betamax, face to face

when it came to qualityit seemed that Betamax outperformed VHS. Both concepts used a horizontal resolution involving lines and Beta had a slightly higher resolution of around 250 lines.

They could get to around 290 with the Super Betabut this was in 1985, when Sony I was already starting to lose the format war.

There has always been the idea that Beta was far superior in picture qualitybut when you look back at the technical details of two average machines, they ended up being nearly identical.

The first version of Betamax it had a superior image, but this was before it became mainstream.

A big reason for this idea that Beta is always the top version was mainly due to sony marketing. People just bought it.

The recording duration was not only a major factor in the competencies of VHS vs Betamax, but the retail price was an issue.

Because JVC brought in other manufacturers to the mix, everyone could compete with each other. Allowed lower prices for the consumer, but ultimately more sales overall.

In 1984 there were more than 70 different VCR manufacturers. In 1985, most VHS players sold for between $200 and $400. This was hundreds of dollars less than a Betamax.

The result of the format competition

Betamax may have had a slightly better picture, a Audio a little better and a image more stable, but the big problem, in addition to the price, came down to the recording time and specifically to one thing: the football.

One of the first major complaints about Betamax was the inability to Record american football games, which can last an average of 3 hours.

People already knew that video recorder could record TV shows and most movies, but the comments continued to be about the impossibility of including an entire sporting event on a Betamax tape.

The other problem was that it wasn’t long before VCR became synonymous with VHS. Betamax owned the 100% of the market in 1975but by 1980 VHS controlled 60% of the market.

By 1981, Beta’s sales had shrunk to just 25% of the VCR market. In 1986 it was only 7.5%.

When Betamax was left alone

There has always been a myth that porn industry was involved in pushing Betamax away for not wanting to be their format of choice, but there is no truth to this. Fewer and fewer people chose the most expensive option with limited recording capacity.

It was the combination of low sales Along with the huge increase in the market for video rental. Movie studios and video rental stores moved away from Betamax.

It just wasn’t worth it to them to stock all movie titles in Betamax format. The lack of titles available and low market share allowed VHS to maintain a distant lead.

The final demise of Betamax

The beta max sales eventually subsided enough to allow VHS emerged as the winner in the format competition.

The signal that everything was over would come in 1988 when Sony threw in the towel and started making VHS machines. But it was too little, too late. For 1987, 95% of all VCRs in the world used the VHS format.

in 2002 Sony stopped making Betamax players and recordersand in March 2016 it was the swan song for the manufacture of tapes.

Sony ignored what the market wanted. He didn’t listen to the audience and decided that all they needed was a 1 hour tape.. It would be the football games that would sink them in the long run.

Sony clung to the idea that people wanted a superior quality, but it was not like that. As usual, people wanted cheaper, better use and compatibility. They found this with VHS, which would rule for an incredible 40 years.


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