This article deals with the diffusion and standardization rivalry between two similar but incompatible formats for home videocassette recorders (VCRs): the Betamax, introduced in 1975 by the Sony Corporation, and the VHS (Video Home System), introduced in 1976 by the Victor Company of Japan (Japan Victor or JVC). Despite being first to the home market, the Beta format fell behind the VHS in market share during 1978 and declined thereafter. By the end of the 1980s, Sony and its partners had ceased producing Beta models. This study analyzes the history of this rivalry and examines its context—a mass consumer market with a dynamic standardization process subject to “bandwagon” effects that took years to unfold and that were largely shaped by the strategic maneuvering of the VHS producers.
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