ODDS AND ENDS ABOUT THE BETA FORMAT!
In 1979 Sony streamlined the logo by
adapting the Greek "B":
JUNE 1: Sony introduces SL-6300 Beta deck, and LV-1801 TV/VCR console, in Japan. Console demoed at Summer CES in Chicago.
NOVEMBER: Sony introduces LV-1901 19" Color TV/Betamax VCR console at $2295 in the U.S.
FEB. 18: Sony introduces SL-7200 deck at $1260, with optional timer for $40. Sony deliberately eliminates video input and audio dub mode for U.S. version of the Japanese model.
APRIL 5: JVC demos VHS prototype to Sony in Japan. Sony refuses to compromise, calls VHS a "copy" of Beta, differing only in use of a bigger cassette.
LATE APRIL: Sony demos prototype BII Beta deck to Matsushita and JVC in Japan, and proposes they adopt the Beta standard. President of Matsushita advises Sony's Morita to adapt VHS, which he adamantly refuses.
SEPT.: JVC introduces the HR-3300 VHS unit in Japan, first consumer VCR with audio dub.
FEB. 1: Zenith and Sony announce agreement for Zenith to market Beta deck made by Sony. Sanyo and Toshiba also adopt Beta format.
MARCH 21: Sony intros SL-8100 in Japan, first two speed X-1/X-2 Beta deck. Requires new L500 tape.
MARCH 31: RCA announces agreement with Matsushita to supply them with 50,000 VHS recorders for the year.
JUNE: JVC introduces the HR-3300 in the U.S.
SEP.: RCA introduces the VBT-200 VHS deck in U.S. at $995; first two-speed VHS deck. Soon after, Sony intros the SL-8200, first two-speed Beta deck in the U.S.
SPRING: Sony shows SL-8600 BII-only deck, with built-in timer and remote pause. Also intros the L-750 tape, first long-play videocassette (3 hours). Meanwhile, JVC intros the HF-3600, first VHS with slow motion, fast-motion, and still-frame. Panasonic intros the NV-8200, first industrial VHS deck; features half-loading transport and linear stereo.
MARCH: Five more U.S. companies (Curtis-Mathis, GE, Magnavox, Montgomery Wards, Sylvania) come on market with VHS machines.
SUMMER: RCA introduces first multi-event programmable VHS deck in U.S., the VCT-400. VHS now outsells Beta by two-to-one.
JUNE: At the Summer CES, Sanyo shows full-function remote control Beta deck, the VCR-5500; it's later mysteriously withdrawn without explanation.
SEPT.: Toshiba introduces the first programmable Beta deck, the V-5420. JVC intros the first six-hour mode VHS deck, the HR6700, first with double-speed intelligible audio, four-head drum, noise-free variable-speed special effects. Sony introduces the SL-5400, first BII/BIII recorder; first consumer VCR with visible picture search. Sony assures the public that VHS will never match this feature.
FALL: Mitsubishi introduces the HS-300, first VHS deck with picture search, solenoid transport, and full-function wired remote control. Akai introduces the first consumer stereo VHS deck with Dolby B, the VP-7350.
JAN.: Sony introduces SL-5600, first Sony VCR with programmable tuner/timer.
SEPT.: Sony intros SL-5800, first Beta VCR with auto rewind and double-azimuth field special effects.
OCT.: Sony introduces the SL-J7, the first split-track stereo Beta deck in Japan, and the first consumer Beta deck with a full-function remote.
JAN.: Audio maker Marantz announces plans to market linear Dolby B stereo Beta deck, the VR-200.
JUNE: Sony secretly previews Beta Hi-Fi to software suppliers at Summer CES, causing widespread rumors and turmoil. Sony also intros the SL-2500 , first Beta VCR with infrared remote.
JAN.: Sony ballyhoos Beta Hi-Fi at Winter CES with the SL-5200 in an elaborate demonstration. Assures press and public that VHS will never be able to match this feature.
MAY: Sony announces Betamovie, first 1/2" camcorder; lacks electronic viewfinder and playback.
JUNE: JVC demonstrates VHS Hi-Fi at Summer CES.
DEC.: Zenith abandons Beta format in favor of VHS.
SPRING: NEC, Sanyo, and Toshiba add VHS machines to their VCR line-up.
JAN.: Sony introduces SuperBeta at Winter CES with the high-end SL-HF900 and assures the public that VHS will never be able to match this feature. The SL-HF900 is first VCR with jog/shuttle knob.
JUNE: JVC introduces the VHS HQ format improvement using Faroudja processing and image enhancement. Sony demonstrates super-miniature 8mm Handycam record-only camcorder.
APRIL: Sony introduces SL-HF750, first Beta to introduce the B-Is record mode; they do it in SuperBeta only.
AUGUST: Sony introduces the high-end, feature-laden SL-HF1000, first consumer editing VCR with flying erase heads and improved "Super High-Band" recording mode, but in B-I only. Only Sony Beta to ever have a built-in character generator and Black Screen mode.
JUNE: JVC demos Super VHS at Summer CES, claiming 400 lines of resolution. Sony counters with demo of ED Beta format, using new metal tape, claiming 500 lines of resolution.
AUGUST: JVC's HF-S6700, first Super VHS deck, arrives in the U.S.
JANUARY 8: Sony demonstrates finished ED Beta models, prototype ED Beta camcorder, and U.S. Laserdisc players. Denies persistent rumors that they will soon market VHS recorders.
JANUARY 12: Sony announces they will add VHS format to worldwide product line. Assures public that they will not abandon existing Beta market.
The Internet plays a pivotal role in keeping Betamax enthusiasts informed and in touch with one another, via on-line newsletters, websites, and chat groups.
OCTOBER, 1997: THE ULTIMATE BETAMAX INFORMATION GUIDE comes on-line on the World Wide Web! Garners rave reviews! Undergoes major facelift in the Summer of 2000. Moves to www.betainfoguide.com in late 2002, and www.betainfoguide.net in 2008.
AUGUST, 2002: Sony Tokyo formally announces it will cease production of all Beta machines worldwide by the end of the year. This was the official death knell that many Betaphiles had feared.
|THE BETAMAX TIMELINE is derived in part from "The Rise and Fall of Beta," written by Marc Wielage and Rod Woodcock, appearing in VIDEOFAX Vol. 4, No. 6, Spring 1988, pp. 28-29.Copyright 1988 by Marc Wielage and Rod Woodcock. Used with permission. (Thanks, guys!)|
THE ETA MAP and ETA
- THE SONY REWINDER/ERASER -
one-of-a-kind Beta videocassette, auctioned off on eBay in early 2006.
| THE BIG LIE
TIDBITS | BETATIPS
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