The camcorder as we know it was originally made up of two separate pieces. Sony would be the ones to bring the pair together, but it never caught on.
Sony has had a habit of creating formats and technologies that are proprietary and revolutionary. Blu-ry? A smash hit over HD-DVD. Betamax? Not quite as hot (at least outside of commercial work). Somewhere along that bumpy road, the company created the camcorder that we know today: the camera and the video tape recorder blended together.
Alec Watson from Technology Connections breaks out the “BetaMovie” and brings us through its ultimate demise. I won’t get overly technical when he explains it wonderfully in the above video. In short, the camera lost out to VHS systems. Ironically, while Sony aimed to lock users into their Betamax system, VHS had no such ideas. You could use a VHS camcorder as a regular VHS player, saving time and money.
Watson also created a fascinating look into the retro format wars in a separate two-part video. How did Beta lose to VHS when they were of better quality and were released before VHS? It’s a lesson about the risks Sony takes when they create formats like Beta and Blu-ray.
Feel like checking out the system yourself? You can pick up an old BetaMovie system on eBay still. Most are a little degraded, but that’s not why you buy one. Does anybody else remember this system or others? Personally, our family had a VHS camcorder back in the day, and the convenience of playing back tapes was a huge selling point.