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Sony to stop making MiniDisc stereos in March

Sony has announced it'll stop making and selling MiniDisc stereos next month, so it's the end of an era.

It's the end of an era -- Sony will stop making MiniDisc stereos next month, two years after it stopped selling its portable equivalents, the BBC reports.

MiniDisc stereos first went on sale back in 1992, so it marks an end to the 21-year-old format's life. Sony hoped MiniDisc would become the format of choice, as a better quality alternative to cassettes. But the rise of CDs put paid to that.

The MiniDisc stereo format struggled outside of Japan due to high prices, not to mention the fragility of the discs themselves. While Sony claimed recordings would stay intact for 30 years, a simple magnet placed nearby would wipe your whole Now 11 compilation.

The discs initially offered 74 minutes of audio, but this was increased to 80.

I have hazy memories of seeing some albums for sale on MiniDisc in HMV, but they never took off. I was strictly a CD man, myself.

Sony tried to relaunch the format as Hi-MD in 2004, but a certain Apple MP3 player was already available by then. Suffice to say Sony's efforts were thoroughly torpedoed, due to the iPod's far greater storage and convenience.

Sony introduced portable MiniDisc players a year before their stereo counterparts, in 1991, but put the kibosh on them a couple of years ago. The portable version was far more popular, selling more than 22 million units in its life. For one thing, it didn't skip, unlike the Discman I had. That was a waste of time.

What are your memories of the MiniDisc, either portable or the stereo version? Were you one of the few to own a MiniDisc stereo? Did you actually buy an album on MiniDisc? Or did I imagine them in my local HMV? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

Image credit: sophist1cated on Flickr