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Betamax vs. VHS: How Sony Lost the Original Home Video Format War

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Remember a few years ago when Blu-ray battled HD-DVD in the high-def DVD format war? Sony and Blu-ray ultimately won out, but there was a time when the electronics giant wasn't as successful in getting its way.

As the EngineerGuy explains, the first home video recorder to hit the market back in 1975 was from Sony, and used the company's Betamax format. Soon after that, JVC released a competing home video recorder that was lighter, cheaper, and used VHS format tapes that could hold a two-hour movie instead of Betamax's one-hour limit—and that was the key.


As a result, VHS was readily embraced by the video rental industry because a single cassette could hold an entire movie. And it was that slight advantage in popularity and price that eventually gave VHS a greater market share that grew and grew until Betamax became nothing more than a footnote in the history of consumer electronics. If only Sony had released the PS3 back in the late 70s with built-in Betamax support, things might have been different.