The Fascinating Story of How VHS Beat Betamax in the Great Videotape Format War

The Fascinating Story of How VHS Beat Betamax in the Great Videotape Format War

Jun 19, 2014


When we talk about the great wars of the Western world, cineastes are more than likely to bring up the battle between Sony's Betamax and JVC's VHS. YouTuber EngineerGuy recently discussed the real reasons that VHS succeeded in the great format war and Betamax failed.


Unleashed upon movie lovers about one year apart, Betamax was introduced to the market first, boasting the ability to "watch whatever whenever." It was essentially the first On Demand service, allowing users to record television shows via the near 40-pound machine. VHS came along and quickly became an industry competitor. VHS cassette tapes were capable of recording two hours worth of media, making them perfect for the movie market (as compared to the one-hour capable Betamax). The machines were lighter and more cost effective.

Suddenly Betamax's better quality picture and technical prowess didn't matter so much. VHS eventually dominated the home video market, proving, as EngineerGuy states, that first isn't always better. Watch a primer on the analog war of the 1970s and '80s with this short but informative video. Bonus: EngineerGuy fondles some pretty tasty-looking machines in the clip. Enjoy, tape heads.

[Spotted via Cheezburger]



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Categories: News, Trailers and Clips
Tags: VHS, Betamax
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