In the tech world, new technology arrives regularly to replace aging products and systems. Sometimes, it's a simple transition, such as moving from fluorescent backlights to LED backlights in LCD TVs. Sometimes, however, it isn't so simple.
When manufacturers were looking to make the next-generation DVD in the mid-2000s, one group came up with Blu-ray and another group came up with HD-DVD. They weren't compatible with each other, and consumers had to guess which one was going to come out on top. However, that wasn't the first time that had happened, and everyone kept comparing it to an event from 30 years earlier.
Back in the mid-'70s, electronics manufacturers were looking for a way to let consumers watch movies at home. So, they came up with tape systems to do the job.
Sony introduced the Betamax in 1975 and JVC released the VHS tape shortly after. Betamax is widely regarded as the better format, but thanks to the VHS' initially longer recording time and the lower cost for tapes and equipment, VHS won.
Sony admitted defeat in 1988 and started making VHS players, although it kept making Beta players from some markets through 2002. Of course, now VHS is also long gone with first DVD, then Blu-ray (which Sony developed, incidentally) and, most recently, digital downloads and online streaming taking its place.
So, 28 years after Sony gave in, it's surprising to hear the news that Sony is finally retiring Betamax. Yes, Sony has still been making Betamax tapes this entire time, but it will finally stop production in March 2016.
So, if you still have a Betamax in your home, this is a good time to buy new tapes before the prices go through the roof.
Which side of the Betamax vs. VHS format war were you on? Let us know in the comments.