What is Betamax?
Sony introduced the Betamax home video system in 1975 with the LV-1901 Trinitron/Betamax console. It was the most popular video format in 1983, gaining almost a third of the UK video recorder market, while Sanyo's VTC5000 was the top selling UK video recorder. By 1985, however, the market had turned sharply towards VHS. Betamax machines were always ahead of their rivals by being the first to offer innovative and useful features into their machines. Here we show some of the ground breaking and remarkable features which can be found on some models. It shows some of the reasons why this system should but did not win the battle of the formats.
Program Search (APS)
In the mid-to-late 80s, both formats were extended to Super Betamax and Super VHS. Super Betamax could record up to 290 lines (approximately 380 pixels horizontal) which could make near-identical copies of broadcast or cable television. Super VHS offered up to 420 lines (560 horizontal) that matched the quality of analogue laserdiscs.
Ironically though, both of these formats were largely ignored by consumers who seemed content with the fuzzy lo-res pictures provided by standard VHS (~320 pixels horizontal), and the "super" standards remained expensive niche products for a small minority of enthusiasts.