On this fateful day, this author
received no less than 2 dozen frantic e-mails, all with the same message:
Sony Tokyo officially announced that they were ceasing production
of Betamax VCRs by the end of 2002. This was the feared and final
death blow for all Betaphiles, which will result in nothing but bad news
and tells us that:
1) Sony did NOT support the Beta format forever,
as they said they would;
2) Parts for Beta machines will be harder and
harder to obtain as time goes on, and eventually will be impossible
to get, therefore making our precious Betamaxes harder and harder to
maintain as they get older;
3) We as Betaphiles will have to stick
together more than ever to keep our machines going!!
4) We should
SERIOUSLY start thinking about transferring our most precious Beta tapes
to a more permanent and viable format, like DVD or CDV's.
HERE IS THE TEXT
OF THE FIRST ARTICLE:
Farewell to Sony Betamax
- Sony is closing the final chapter of its
legendary battle with Victor Co. of Japan to dominate the home video
machine market, when it announced yesterday that it would discontinue its
Sony will stop manufacturing Betamax machines
by year's end as the company refocuses its efforts on DVD and other
technologies now dominating the market, Sony spokeswoman Shoko Yanagizawa
The announcement marks the end of a 27-year run, during
which the fabled brand sold 18 million units
worldwide in a race
against VHS technology from its archrival Victor Co., which is also known
as JVC, to set the video format standard.
Betamax was first
to market, hitting stores in 1975 and peaking with global sales of 2.3
million units in 1984.
But the decision not to share its
technology with rival companies proved to be Sony's fatal
In a classic case of the underdog winning the race,
VHS - short for "video home system" - had clearly won the battle by the
The technology used now in millions of video
recorders around the world is JVC's.
Even for JVC,
videocassette technology is losing its luster. The company lost money two
of the last three fiscal years and is forecasting losses for the year that
ended March 31.
Overseas production of the Betamax ground to
a halt in 1998.
In Japan, Sony produced just 2,800 units in
HERE IS A SECOND
TOKYO - What VHS couldn't
do, digital did. Sony Corp's Betamax video tape recorder, which famously
lost the 1980s video format war but held on for decades as a niche
product, will finally be laid to rest after digital formats delivered a
death blow to its prospects.
Sony said on Tuesday it would
only make 2,000 more Betamax machines before discontinuing the product
altogether, ending its 27-year history -- spent mostly in the shadow of
the Matsushita group's rival VHS format.
machines and other new recording formats taking hold in the market, demand
has continued to decline and it has become difficult to secure parts,"
Sony said in a statement.
Betamax -- held up as an example of
how the first to market is not guaranteed commercial success -- had
already been pulled from overseas markets in the 1990s, a Sony spokesman
Production of the machine in the last business year to
March totaled 2,800 units, a tiny fraction of the 2.3 million made in the
peak year of 1984 and the 18 million made over its
Sony said it would continue to offer repairs and
manufacture tapes for the format, adding the move would not affect its
Betacam products for the broadcasting industry.
growth in digital versatile disc (DVD) players and recorders has posed a
threat in recent years not just to the remnants of Betamax but to the
mainstream VHS videotape recorders pioneered by Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co, maker of Panasonic goods, and Victor Co of Japan, a
In the DVD arena as well, the industry is groping
for ways to set standards without risking a destructive format
A fragmentation of standards for DVD recorders has been
blamed for delaying the take-off of that market, and a potential format
war is also brewing over next-generation DVD products.
Matsushita and seven other industry giants joined hands early this year on
a common format for DVD players using blue laser light, which are due out
as early as next year and will vastly increase disc storage
But Toshiba Corp, a pioneer in DVD technology, said
this week it aimed to offer an alternative blue-laser format it believes
will be cheaper and more compatible with existing red-laser
And the beat goes