Posted by: docdenbow | January 10, 2013

Betamax And The Joys Of A C120

Anyone out there remember Betamax? Anyone out there have the foggiest idea what it is I’m talking about? Betamax, what is Betamax, what is a Betamax? A SuperHero? A new version of a bloke called Max? How is it pronounced? Is it a spell or incantation? Well no it’s not really any of those and it is pronounced BEE-TER-MAX. Well it’s how I say it. I suppose if you are student of Greek you may say BAY-TA-MAX, but whatever, does it matter when it comes to this gripping narrative? No it doesn’t.

Have you ever heard of cassettes? I don’t mean the ones that have something to do with bikes, I’m talking about little cassettes that people had and recorded LP’s (remember them?) they’d borrowed from their friends. These little music cassettes were apparently killing music when what they were really doing is making a small dent in the profits of the multinational giants that were Record Companies. Nobody except the Record Companies really gave a flying thingy about home taping as it was called,and everyone carried on borrowing LP’s and recording them and the Record Company business didn’t begin to hit skid row until some clever so and so invented MP3’s and the internet and file sharing and torrents and newsgroups. That’s when the Record Companies began to slide inexorably down the toilet.

The humble cassette in audio form was a thing of true beauty and utility. In fact the C120 which had 60 minutes of music per side really served as the medium for the soundtrack to marathon snogging sessions for many 1970’s teenagers in those heady days before underage sex was invented. Boys would record selections of the “nice” songs by all sorts of rock and prog bands so that they could impress the girls with how sensitive they were. Hours were spent finding songs like Rainbow’s “Temple Of The King” and ELP’s “Still You Turn Me On” in order to impress the blue eyed blonde beauty in preparation for the time when you would finally find the courage to ask her out and perhaps get to have a marathon snogging session with her yourself.

You would record albums for her, make tapes that tried to convey via the songs how you felt about her. Tapes would be recorded lovingly and diligently from your extensive record collection in the hope of, well the hope of, you know. Bits of Roxy, bits of Queen even, there was no recipe, no definitive list it was just what you felt was right. You were looking for that song that was going to become special to you both. Yes it truly was the age of scented candles, the joss stick and Mateus Rose, just like the spectacles I’m looking through here.

But I’m wandering – again. I do that a lot when I’m blogging, hope you don’t mind. Where was I? Oh yes Betamax. In retaliation to the cassette of the audio variety, video stood up and said “I’m not having that” and promptly(ish) launched itself in three non compatible formats. V2000 shot itself successfully in the foot owing to the fact that basically it was crap. This left two fighters left to go toe to toe in the video wars of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Betamax was better than its’ rival VHS, superior in everyway, but it lost out big time to VHS and Betamax quietly scuttled away to be heard of only when 50 something males talk about picture quality and crosstalk (whatever that is)

These days we have Windows squaring up to Mac. Android squaring up to Windows and Macs. Linux meanwhile just sits smiling and saying like Mr. Humphries in “Are You Being Served,” “I’m free!”

There’s laptops, netbooks, smartphones, tablets and probably much more. They are all advertised to us as a “must have” piece of kit. So we go out and buy them and some of us buy them with little or no thought of what we are going to do with them once we have bought them. +

Mind you banging on about a few formats of cassette tapes was not really what I had to say, but nevermind I’ll save that for another day.

Ciao For Now



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