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Monday, 04 February 2013 11:32

Sony kills off MiniDisc

Written by Nick Farrell



End of an error


Sony has announced it is to deliver its last MiniDisc stereo next month ending an era which began in 1992. The format only ever had limited success outside of Japan and was ultimately doomed by the rise of recordable CDs and MP3 players.

Sony had intended MiniDisc to become users' format of choice as a higher quality digital replacement for cassettes and was a more accessible version of the Digital Audio Tape. Sony claimed that recordings would last for more than 30 years however this proved to be bogus when tests revealed it was possible to wipe disks with a magnetic field.

The original MiniDisc machines cost $750 while a playback-only version cost $549 when launched in the US in December 1992.  Over the following year only 50,000 units sold. What kept the format alive was that the Japanese loved them.  This was mostly because CDs were more expensive and teenagers proved receptive to buying MD singles.

Sony tried to relaunch the format in 2004 as Hi-MD, offering more than three times the amount of storage.  This was just in time for the iPod to arrive and the format was dead in the water. Sony ended shipments of its MiniDisc portable Walkman players in 2011. The decision to halt production of MD-based hi-fi systems marks Sony’s exit from the sector.  The outfit said that it will continue to make the cartridges for a while longer.

Nick Farrell

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