Technology & Science

Sony announces plan to stop making Betamax video tapes

Bad news Betamax lovers. The 40-year-old video cassette tapes are about to die. Sony broke the news on its website Tuesday, saying it would stop making the tapes as of March 2016.

Many on social media thought the 40-year-old cassettes were already long gone

Sony announced that it would stop making Betamax cassettes as of March 2016. The company killed off the Beta VCR in 2002, but continued to sell the tapes. (Wikimedia Commons/Bettenburg/Stevo81989)

Bad news Betamax lovers. The 40-year-old video cassette tapes are about to die. Sony broke the news on its website Tuesday, saying it would stop making the tapes as of March 2016.

The cassette tapes went along with the Beta VCR, the first model which was released back in 1975. The system allowed viewers to record their favourite TV programs onto Betamax tapes. Sony discontinued the players back in 2002, but its cassette tapes lived on.

Sony told CBC News that Betamax tapes are currently only being sold in Japan.

They are notorious amongst 'Betaphiles,' who insist that the cassette's quality is far superior than that of its more-popular competitor, VHS. The two formats sparked a famous videotape format battle during the late '70s and '80s, with most viewers gravitating to VHS. It was released a year later than the Beta VCR, in 1976. 

On a blog post looking back at its old products, Sony said the Betamax was regarded as a "time-shift machine" for its ability to let TV viewers watch shows on their own time — a pre-cursor to today's DVR and Netflix-dominated era.

Along with the Betamax tapes, Sony also announced it would be discontinuing Micro MV cassette tapes, which were used in video cameras.

News that Sony was killing Betamax tapes caught plenty off guard. Many assumed the cassettes were already long gone.

Beta has long been the butt of jokes. And even though the technology is on its deathbed, the humour hasn't stopped.

And there was even room for reminiscing. RIP Betamax.


  • A previous version of this story included a photo of a Betacam tape, rather than a Betamax tape.
    Nov 11, 2015 8:47 AM ET


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