There was a time when Sony was the first name in consumer electronics. The company's Trinitron TVs dominated the TV market for decades. In 1975, Sony's Betamax was the first widely adapted consumer video recorder format. The Walkman hit the market in 1979 and changed the way people listened to music, creating the personal audio market category. In 1982 the CD, which the company developed jointly with Philips, changed the way we listened to music even more. Sony extended its reach when it purchased CBS Records in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989, and scored a triumph in … Read more
Due to shrinking demand, Sony will cease production of MiniDisc Walkman devices this coming September, Nikkei reported today. This marks yet another blow to the dying format, which experienced a roller-coaster ride of popularity during its 20-year lifetime.
During MiniDisc's introduction at CES 1991, Norio Ohga, Sony's president and CEO at the time, boasted that "the success and benefits of CD and analog compact cassette led to a new need--a need based on satisfaction with CD's wonderful sound, durability, and quick random access, and a need based on the portability, recordability, and shock resistance of the analog cassette. It is a need for MiniDisc."
A need, indeed. After launching the first MD products in 1992, Sony would go on to sell more than 22 million MiniDisc devices (as of March 2011), with millions more sold by other companies that licensed the technology, including big names such as Sharp, Kenwood, Panasonic, and others. … Read more
We all watched NASA's final space shuttle launch this morning before heading into the studio, and by "we" I mean Wilson and me, because as usual, Jeff couldn't care less. Nevertheless, we're still excited about Atlantis and spend part of the first half of the show watching videos and talking about the official Atlantis fanfare written by Emmy-nominated composer Bear McCreary and produced by actor Seth Green!
We're also mourning the death of Sony MiniDiscs, checking out a new way networks are handling product placements, and singing a brand new Tang That Tune!The 404 Digest for Episode 856 Atlantis launch a bittersweet end for space shuttle. Fanfare for final NASA shuttle mission. Sony to kill the MiniDisc Walkman in September. TV networks inserting ads and product placements in show reruns. Kidrobot launches Street Fighter toys. The missing person living in Savannah. Episode 856 Subscribe in iTunes (audio) | Subscribe in iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… 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