HD DVD is only the latest video media format to land on the junk heap of history. Most of you reading probably know about Betamax, since it has entered the popular lexicon as a synonym for ‘failed format’. But Betamax and HD DVD are hardly alone, and Popular Mechanics has a fun article which covers ten failed video media formats. Read the article and see how many of the formats you were already familiar with. And how many of them did you own?
My answers below.
I thought I was pretty savvy, but I don’t think I’d ever heard of format’s 1-6. I did know about Betamax, LaserDisc, CED, and DIVX. And I still own a couple of LaserDisc players and several LaserDiscs. It was a decent format for its day, but flipping & swapping discs mid-movie was a huge down-side. Even with an auto-flip player, which I have, you’d still often have to swap discs mid-movie. And they’re big, of course. I was not reluctant to switch to DVD, that’s for sure.
As for the switch to DVD, I was always vehemently opposed to DIVX – as many of my then co-workers could attest to, given my lunchtime rants on the subject. Such a stupid idea. I can’t decide which DVD-related idea is worse – DIVX or the ‘disposable’ DVDs that were supposed to self-destruct after a couple of days via a dye layer that would turn opaque once exposed to the air. Surprise – they bombed in test marketing.
Makes me wonder how many failed audio media formats I’ve never heard of. Jokes about 8-track aside, there’s DAT, DCC (Digital Compact Cassette), and, arguably, MiniDisc. MD is iffy as it found a niche as a recordable format, and it was fairly successful in Japan with pre-recorded music. Hmm, I suppose SACD and DVD Audio have pretty much been failures too. Reel-to-reel, LP (vinyl of all stripes really), compact cassette, and CD have all been successful. Hmm, were wax cylinders a big success in their day?