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November 11, 2015

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Sony closes the curtain on Betamax video tapes

SONY said yesterday that it will stop making Betamax video tapes, ending the storied four-decade history of the product that had been ousted years ago by the more popular VHS format.

“Sony will stop the shipment of Betamax video cassettes and micro MV cassettes in March 2016,” the company said in a Japanese-language statement.

“With this step, all of our firm’s shipment will end for recording media using the Betamax format and the micro MV cassette format,” which is also a Sony-produced video standard, it said.

Sony first launched its Betamax products in 1975 as a household, magnetic video format for consumers to record analogue television shows. The popularity of Betamax tapes peaked in 1984 when some 50 million cassettes were shipped, Sony said.

However, the format, initially supported by Toshiba and other electronics makers, is most remembered as the loser of the tense corporate battle in the 1970s and 1980s over setting the de facto household video standard, which was won by the VHS format that was developed by another Japanese electronics maker that now is a part of JVC Kenwood.

VHS gave way to digital formats, such as DVDs, that have largely been replaced by online streaming technology.

Sony stopped making Betamax recorders in 2002, but it kept making tapes for die-hard fans.

Sony said it has sold over 18 million units of Betamax devices globally since its launch.


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