Sony has historically been notable for creating its own in-house standards for new recording and storage technologies, instead of adopting those of other manufacturers and standards bodies. Sony (either alone or with partners) has introduced several of the most popular recording formats, including the floppy disk, Compact Disc, and Blu-ray Disc.Video recording
The company launched the Betamax videocassette recording format in 1975. Sony became embroiled in the infamous videotape format war of the early 1980s, when Sony was marketing the Betamax system for video cassette recorders against the VHS format developed by JVC. In the end, VHS gained critical mass in the marketbase and became the worldwide standard for consumer VCRs and Sony adopted the format.
While Betamax is for all practical purposes an obsolete format, a professional-oriented component video format called Betacam that was derived from Betamax is still used today, especially in the television industry, although far less so in recent years with the introduction of digital and high definition.
In 1985 Sony launched their Handycam products and the Video8 format. Video8 and the follow-on hi-band Hi8 format became popular in the consumer camcorder market. In 1987 Sony launched the 4 mm DAT or Digital Audio Tape as a new digital audio tape standard.Audio recording
In 1979 the Walkman brand was introduced, in the form of the world's first portable music player using the compact cassette format. Sony introduced the MiniDisc format in 1993 as an alternative to Philips DCC or Digital Compact Cassette and as a successor to the compact cassette. Since the introduction of MiniDisc, Sony has attempted to promote its own audio compression technologies under the ATRAC brand, against the more widely used MP3. Until late 2004, Sony's Network Walkman line of digital portable music players did not support the MP3 de facto standard natively.
In 2004, Sony built upon the MiniDisc format by releasing Hi-MD. Hi-MD allows the playback and recording of audio on newly introduced 1 GB Hi-MD discs in addition to playback and recording on regular MiniDiscs. In addition to saving audio on the discs, Hi-MD allows the storage of computer files such as documents, videos and photos.Audio encoding
In 1993, Sony challenged the industry standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound format with a newer and more advanced proprietary motion picture digital audio format called SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound). This format employed eight channels (7.1) of audio opposed to just six used in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the time. Ultimately, SDDS has been vastly overshadowed by the preferred DTS (Digital Theatre System) and Dolby Digital standards in the motion picture industry. SDDS was solely developed for use in the theatre circuit; Sony never intended to develop a home theatre version of SDDS.
Sony and Philips jointly developed the Sony-Philips digital interface format (S/PDIF) and the high-fidelity audio system SACD. The latter has since been entrenched in a format war with DVD-Audio. At present, neither has gained a major foothold with the general public. CDs are preferred by consumers because of ubiquitous presence of CD drives in consumer devices.Optical storage
In 1983 Sony introduced the world (with their counterpart Philips) to the Compact Disc (CD). In addition to developing consumer-based recording media, after the launch of the CD Sony began development of commercially based recording media. In 1986 they launched Write-Once optical discs (WO) and in 1988 launched Magneto-optical discs which were around 125MB size for the specific use of archival data storage. In 1984 Sony launched the Discman series which extended their Walkman brand to portable CD products.
In the early 1990s two high-density optical storage standards were being developed: one was the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density disc (SD), supported by Toshiba and many others. Philips and Sony abandoned their MMCD format and agreed upon Toshiba's SD format with only one modification. The unified disc format was called DVD and was introduced in 1997.
Sony was one of the leading developers of the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, the newest standard for disc-based content delivery. The first Blu-ray players became commercially available in 2006. The format emerged as the standard for HD media over the competing format, Toshiba's HD DVD, after a two year-long format war.Disk storage
In 1983 Sony introduced 90 mm micro diskettes (better known as 3.5-inch (89 mm) floppy disks), which it had developed at a time when there were 4" floppy disks, and a lot of variations from different companies, to replace the then on-going 5.25" floppy disks. Sony had great success and the format became dominant. 3.5" floppy disks gradually became obsolete as they were replaced by current media formats.Flash memory
Sony launched in 1998 their Memory Stick format, flash memory cards for use in Sony lines of digital cameras and portable music players. It has seen little support outside of Sony's own products with Secure Digital cards (SD) commanding considerably greater popularity. Sony has made updates to the Memory Stick format with Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Micro.