I bet you didn't know that Betamax was still on sale, did you? Well it is. Despite losing out on a format war to the cheaper VHS 30 years ago, Sony has kept its Betamax baby in development ever since it first launched in 1975.
But this is about to change, as Sony has announced it will stop selling Betamax tapes from March 2016; its Japanese website lists tapes as already being out of production. These will soon go to the technology graveyard, where they'll join Betamax players, which Sony stopped producing back in 2002.
Worse still, for anyone suspicious and untrusting of videos recording digitally on a telephone, Sony is also killing off its MicroMV format. MicroMV were the smallest video tapes ever to go on sale, each storing 60 minutes of footage. Introduced in 2001, they meant video cameras could get smaller than ever, but were soon no match for the digital revolution which followed a decade later.
Betamax is best known for its contribution to the "videotape format war" of the 1970s and 1980s. Where Betamax offered slightly superior picture quality, a more stable image, and better sound, VHS tapes and recorders (produced by JVC) were much cheaper. It was more than a decade before Sony licensed the Betamax technology to other companies, and the nail in the coffin came shortly after, when Sony capped the maximum record time per tape to one hour, a third of what VHS was capable of.
Sony's technology was the first to go on sale, launching Betamax in 1975 and thus taking 100% of the home video recording market. But once VHS arrived a year later with longer record times, the public's interest shifting away from Betamax; just six years later, Betamax accounted for a quarter of the market. By 1988, Sony had begun producing its own VHS recorders.
Sony would have its day though, as when the second format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray broke out in 2005, Sony's Blu-ray was triumphant, helped by being included in the PlayStation 3 games console, which at launch was one of the cheapest Blu-ray players on the market.