On This Day In 1975, The Betamax Was Introduced In Japan
Before DVDs, Blu-Ray discs and even VHS tapes, there was the Betamax.
Sony’s Betamax was introduced in Japan on this day in 1975. It localised its main success in Japan and lead to the SuperBetamax and Extended Definition Betamax, offering a better resolution. Unfortunately, stiff competition in the West from JVC’s VHS format lead to its downfall outside of Japan. Their market share in the US rose to 60% by 1980 and left Sony in the dust. It was also cheaper to make VHS tapes in Europe and pushed the format even further. That lead to a gradual decline in Betamax tapes in the 80s, down a market share of 7.5% in 1986.
Now more of a novelty collector’s item, the simple reason why Betamax lost to VHS was Sony’s inability to cater to the general public. They wanted a medium that could record for longer, even if it meant compromising quality. A curious oddity is that Sony continued to make Betamax recorders right up to 2002. But there have been some influential uses of Betamax, as we covered in an article about Marion Stokes.