The origins of the name for this video format came from the Japanese word "beta" for recording signals and "max" coming from "maximum."
The Original Aim of Betamax
BetaMax took some of the basic designs of the U-Matic tape and turned it into a videotape that was slightly smaller. That overall design was the U shape that the tape made while it wound around the video head drum. Regardless, once VHS was on the commercial market in 1977, there was a clear distinction in the appearance of the tapes. A BetaMax tape had one window on the left side showing the spooled tape inside. Conversely, VHS tapes provided two windows to see both sides of the tape spools.
While BetaMax tapes were always considered to provide a much better quality video, by the late 1970s and early 1980s, BetaMax was already on its way down due to the fact that VHS was less expensive and had better features.
Betamax's Attempt to Overcome VHS Dominance
VHS managed to make playback and editing on their camcorders so much more convenient. BetaMax simply didn't have the technology to do some of the things VHS was doing. That can be said despite the format still having the distinction of offering some of the earliest home movies done on video. Your family may still have old BetaMax tapes of family events from the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Betamax vs. VHS Wars Through the 80s and Beyond
In the mid-1980s, Sony put out Super Betamax tapes that increased the lines of resolution. They even created an Extended Definition Betamax tape that had the same resolution as a DVD 10 years before standard-definition DVD's were available. Both of these formats are still available today and used by those who like the retro look and style. For those that wondered, the original Betamax tape no longer exists and only in storage where some valuable material still awaits viewing.
Betamax to DVD Conversion
Contact us and we'll tell you about the special care we put into home movie transfers from videotape formats. We'll make sure the quality is improved and the end result can even be placed on a gold DVD that's guaranteed to last 100 years.