Then there was the infamous ‘Videotape War.’ Contestant number one, VHS. Contestant number two…BETAMAX. Which would last throughout the 70s and 80s.
In actual fact the Betamax, was around a whole year earlier before the release of the VHS tape. It was the first system to be successful with customers. It was released under SONY branding in 1975. This was quickly followed by the competing VHS format from JVC (a Japanese international electronics corporation). The Betamax cassette was smaller with slightly superior quality to the VHS cassette. This was thanks to its use of a guard band in the recording process. A guard band is the space in a videocassette between the tracks of the magnetic tape, which avoids the signals on next tracks from interfering with each other. Unfortunately this resulted in Betamax having less recording time. Only an hour long (not even long enough to record a film) compared to VHS’ three hours. Sony did adjust and offer various solutions for longer recording, but it was too late. The issue of recording time is often cited as the most important factor in the war.
Again it comes down to pornography. This adult content was not available on the Betamax format. There isn’t any evidence that this reason influenced the outcome of the war
Even though the Betamax videocassette was arguably the superior of the two formats. With its clearer visual and audio quality, JVCs decision to expand the recording time won the VCR market.
By the late 80s The Videotape war was over. ‘Betamaxphiles,’ supported the format and helped keep it going in a small market. It was all over for Betamax in 1993 when production shutdown. The last Betamax machine in the world was produced in Japan in 2002.