Sony bids farewell to the MiniDisc

Sony is pulling the plug on the MiniDisc, ending the manufacture of stereo systems that support the format.

Sony is pulling the plug on the MiniDisc, ending the manufacture of stereo systems that support the format.

The MZ-N10 player sold for close to AU$700 when it was released in 2004. (Credit: Sony)

Looking back, MiniDisc has had a decent 21-year run despite slow uptake. First introduced in 1992, the small square-shaped discs were designed to be an efficient successor to the cassette tape, though never achieved the same level of popularity.

MiniDiscs found their niche amongst audio engineers and field recording enthusiasts. However, the format never made enough of a dent outside of Japan to be a threat to the ubiquitous compact disc and MP3 players such as the iPod. In the first year of sales, Sony only managed to sell 50,000 MiniDisc players and recorders.

The players and discs themselves were notoriously expensive compared to both the cassette and the CD. Initially, the discs could store 74 minutes of audio, though this was later boosted to 80 minutes.

Sony discontinued the production of MiniDisc walkman players in 2011, which was a strong signal of the format's demise.

The discs themselves will still be made available for the foreseeable future, and other manufacturers will continue to make MiniDisc-compatible hi-fi systems.

 

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