Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Muppets on Beta!

My parents were clearing out their basement, and finally decided to get rid of their old Betamax player. Do you remember Beta? Although it lost the market to VHS, it was actually a technically superior machine, with better recording and playback. If I remember correctly, the biggest trouble was that the faster tape speed meant that you couldn't record nearly as much on a single cassette tape. So even if it was better quality, people weren't as excited about it.
But not only did my parents' antiquated Beta VCR still work (after cleaning and drying out) but there were a few tapes still kicking around, including this one, with some favourite moments from the Muppet Show. Enjoy.

You probably remember all those clips, but here's something serious. Were you one of those folks whose parents got onto the wrong bandwagon when the time came to buy a VCR? Actually, to tell the truth, I'm not really sure which VCR was the wrong choice. Yes, in the course of time, VHS really did crush the Beta opposition, but who's buying VHS now? Way back in the day, Betamaxes actually had better video and audio quality. They just got beat out commercially by a better-marketed product that was all right, but technically inferior. Kind of like the way that HD-DVD was buried by Blu-Ray. Only thing is, with a bit of digging around, you might still find an HD-DVD player, while your Beta tapes are just going to moulder away in the basement. Or are they? This would have been a great way to recover those lost 80s TV shows that you taped, if only HD-DVD had survived...

Sorry to follow up on the Betamax line of thought even further. In a particularly candid moment, US president Barack Obama drew parallels between current economic woes and the 1980s mentality that led to the VHS ascendancy. Obama pointed out that 'sometimes, the answer isn't always "Bigger is better" [referring to the larger VHS tape format]. The only way to be sure is to weigh all the alternatives.'

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