Moving forward from the earliest days of Edison cylinders in the late 1880s, there is a long list of consumer audio formats that garnered popular support, while many others disappeared without a trace. The 78 RPM record, 45 single, and LP all enjoyed mass acceptance. Reel-to reel tape never took off, but 4- and 8-track cartridges had a good run, then the cassette hit the big time. A higher-quality analog cassette format, the Elcasette, arrived with much fanfare yet never caught on. Later, the two consumer digital tape formats, DAT and DCC, fizzled. The CD almost killed the LP in … Read more
Betamax was one of Sony's biggest blunders.
The videocassette format was introduced in 1975, and initially sold well. But when JVC's VHS tape cartridge was introduced in 1978, Betamax quickly lost its lead. The media loved Beta for its superior picture quality, but Standard Betamax tapes were only 60 minutes, and VHS 3-hour tapes could record more TV shows.
VHS was more popular, but Betamax refused to die. Production in the U.S. ended in 1993, and the last Betamax machine in the world was produced in Japan in 2002.
Ah, but the Compact Disc was a hit from the get-go. On August 31, 1982, an announcement was made in Tokyo that four companies, Sony, CBS/Sony, Philips, and Polygram had jointly developed the world's first CD system. Talk of the CD's demise are premature, sales are still in the hundreds of millions of discs a year.
The MiniDisc was introduced January 12, 1992. The recordable music format was originally based exclusively on ATRAC audio data compression, but the format never caught on in the U.S. MiniDiscs were popular in Japan and Asia as a digital upgrade from cassette tapes.
Which reminds me, Sony's ill-fated Elcaset came out in 1976. Like Betamax, Sony was trying to make a higher quality tape format, in this case better than the Philips Compact Cassette. Elcaset was better, but it was too large and cumbersome. Elcaset was a flop. … Read more
Legend has it that on December 4, 1877, Thomas Edison was the first person to record and play back the human voice. Maybe not.
The Video Interchange site notes that "a possibility exists that Edison himself, in fact, might not have been the very first person to have recorded and played back the human voice. This was most likely made by his two key assistants: Charles Batchelor, his chief assistant, and John Kruesi, his head machinist."
You can see Edison's machine on the Video Interchange Web site. And while you're there, check out a few of the fascinating but obscure audio formats on display.
Video Interchange offers transfer services for a vast range of ancient and recent audio formats. For example, Video Interchange can transfer 78 rpm records to CD.