IT’S always a sad day when a piece of your past is resigned to the technology scrapheap.
But hearing that Sony is to stop making Betamax video tapes next year came as something as a shock to me – I thought they stopped making them over a decade ago!
When I was growing up you were either in one camp – VHS or Betamax, I was the former – and war was waged when you were lending videos to your mates only to find out they had the wrong recorder, meaning you couldn’t watch the latest episode of Gladiators, or worse, Baywatch (this was the 90s, remember)
Sony launched the format in 1975, a year before JVC’s rival the VHS cassette – which eventually became the market leader after a long battle between the two brands and their fans.
The advent of the CD and DVD format meant many broadcasters ceased using both Betamax and VHS by the turn of the 21st Century but there still remains a few who will use the tape from their libraries, hoping the tape itself wouldn’t wrap itself around an older player.
But, as we know only too well, technology moves on and while DVD and CDs are still an important asset to many companies, the popularity of the digital framework seems to have the monopoly. As businesses moves forward with digital marketing and new ways of engaging with their audience many will be quick to forget that without Betamax and VHS tapes, the landscape would have looked very different.
Just think, without video we would not have been able to see history unfolding in front of our hours. The first man on the moon would have been just a drawing, the fall of the Berlin Wall would be a simple photograph and the assassination of JFK would have been a sketch. Could we have really managed without that.
Without video cassettes there wouldn’t have been what followed as a natural progression so while we laugh now about how clunky and awkward they were, perhaps it’s time to look back with fond memories of how such a humble plastic product became such an important milestone in technology.
Next time you are watching re-runs of Only Fools & Horses on GOLD, or your Star Wars Blu Ray on your 50in plasma-screen wall-mounted Smart TV with integrated internet capability just remember where you saw them first.
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