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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Betamax finally laid to rest
Betamax tapes
Fans said Betamax had better quality pictures
Betamax video recorders are finally being phased out almost 20 years after losing the battle for dominance of the home video market to VHS.

Betamax's manufacturer, Sony, has announced that it will make only 2,000 more machines for the Japanese market.

They have not been on sale in the rest of the world since 1998.

Child using VHS video recorder
VHS became the dominant format by the mid-1980s
Betamax was launched in 1975, and won many fans who said it was better quality than its VHS rival.

Some 2.3 million Betamax machines were sold worldwide in its peak year, 1984, but it soon went downhill as VHS became the format of choice for the film rental industry and in homes.

Just 2,800 machines were sold in the 12 months to March 2002.

"With digital machines and other new recording formats taking hold in the market, demand has continued to decline and it has become difficult to secure parts," Sony said in a statement.

Sony said it would continue to offer repairs and manufacture tapes for the format.

The professional Betamax format, Betacam, is still widely used in the television and film industries and will be unaffected.

But the recent rise of DVDs seems to have put the final nail in the coffin for Betamax home players.

In the 1980s, many video rental chains preferred the VHS format.

Betamax lovers became so passionate about the format in the face of competition from VHS that they set up the Betaphile Club in 1988.

The picture and sound quality of Beta was superior to VHS, Betaphiles say, although VHS tapes had a longer duration.

A total of 18 million Betamax machines were sold around the world, but no new ones will be made after the end of 2002.

Sony is now planning to focus its efforts on new digital technologies.

See also:

28 Aug 02 | UK
30 Jul 02 | Entertainment
04 Jan 02 | Entertainment
10 Dec 01 | Business
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