On May 10, 1975, Sony took out full-page ads in a bunch of newspapers to proudly announce the arrival of a new product, “The Next Thing”: Betamax.
At the time of launch, Betamax was the first home video recorder to hit the market. But as everyone knows, JVC released a recorder that used VHS soon afterwards. Betamax tapes were clunkier, more expensive, and could only hold a one-hour movie, compared to VHS’s two hours.
It’s always fun to reflect back on the boastful claims of past technology ads. But the Betamax saga continues to be a good cautionary tale for the modern era: competing formats almost always end up with one dominant winner, and one heavy loser. Ah, progress.
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