Tuesday 10 November 2015

Bye bye beta...

So, Sony have finally pulled the plug on Betamax tapes. Speaking as someone who had two spells as a brown goods salesman in the early 1990s, this makes me sad. Of course, by the mid-90s, Betamax was already passé. We still sold the cassettes, but even we probably sold no more than five a year. My colleagues and I used to keep an eye open though for any faulty players that came in "for disposal" after a customer had replaced one with a VHS machine. We knew that if a late-80s player could be repaired cheaply enough, there was a profit to be turned. And since we had access to an engineer who did private work at mate's rates... well, it could have been lucrative. But so few ever came back. They seemed so well made, perhaps even over-engineered.

What makes me sadder still is that the predominance achieved by VHS seemed to be a triumph of style over substance - Betamax recording quality was far, far ahead of anything VHS achieved. Even the subsequent introduction of multi-headed players and Super-VHS only brought parity for JVC's format, not superiority. But there you go, style over substance, and the first of many format wars.

To celebrate the end of Betamax, here's a salesman training video from seventeen years before I hung up my salesman boots.

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