RIP Betamax: Sony has announced it will no longer produce Betamax cassettes

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Remember the old days when you had to put a thing into the thing that sat on top of the thing in order to watch a thing? Sony is finally putting that era to an end.


The Verge reported the Sony is going to stop making and selling a variety of tape cassette formats, many of which have not seen wide use in some time.

Most recognizable on the list of phased-out tapes is Betamax. Betamax is best remembered for its part in a fierce format war with VHS in the 1970s and 80s. Betamax was considered to be technically superior, while VHS was more flexible, and could play and record for longer times. VHS won the battle, of course, and ruled home televisions for years before eventually becoming irrelevant as well.


It's a wonder that Sony has continued to make Betamax tapes all this time. We're more than 30 years from the format's peak popularity, and Sony hasn't even sold Betamax players and recorders since 2002. An article from The Los Angeles Times archives dated August 28, 2002, states that at the time Sony stopped making Betamax players, it had only sold 3,000 that year (and only in Japan).

The 13-year-old Times article likely holds the explanation as to why the cassettes continued to be sold. A small, passionate group of fans have converted Betamax from a failed format into a passionate hobby, collecting both the tapes and machines.

You can see the enthusiasm on display on fan sites like Beta Info Guide, one of many that have been on the web since its early days. Amid the web 1.0 design are listings for auctions and sales of Betamax related hardware, as well as archived catalogs and commercials.

It should be noted that Sony also announced it would stop producing its MicroMV camcorder cassettes as well. No MicroMV fan sites could be found.

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