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Old 6th February 2003
Registered User
Ohhhh.....alright then. This as told by Stephen St. Croix. Blame him if it turns out to be jive.

So Sony was developing a consumer video cassette recorder and had dropped some $$$ into the project as an initial test platform. They assessed their progress and decided there was in fact promise in the concept for consumers, but their initial efforts were not quite up to snuff as a saleable product.

So they decided to scrap the initial direction, take the lessons they had learned, and move on to fully developing the technology for release into the marketplace.

Meanwhile, Toshiba (or whoever it was) inquired with Sony about aquiring the technology from Sony's initial effort in order to begin research on video cassette technology for themselves. Sony, figuring the other company would never begin to catch up before Sony released their consumer video products, agreed to sell them the research technology.

And so, Sony sold their initial effort, that they had rejected as not ready for prime time, to recapture some R&D dollars. Their inital effort had been named Alpha. And Sony then moved on to finalize their real consumer video format, named of course, Beta.

Meanwhile, (surprise) the supposed research technology named Alpha was renamed to VHS and released to market before Sony completed developing Beta. Being first is sometimes better than being best in the dog-eat-dog world of consumer sales, as Sony learned at all of our expense.

Wild, eh?

Brian T