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Sony Will Cease Shipping MiniDisc Devices in March

By - Source: Engadget | B 27 comments

Sony will cease shipping MiniDisc devices in March.

Engadget reports (via Asahi) that Sony will ship its last MiniDisc player in March 2013. A magneto-optical disc-based storage device, it was first introduced in December 1992 here in the United States as the next step above the cassette. The media originally held 74 minutes of digitized audio, but then was upgraded to 80 minutes, or 1 GB of Hi-MD data.

Originally Sony had intended to launch another format for taking the place of consumer-based cassettes: the Digital Audio Tape, or DAT. Sony planned to sell the first readers for around $400 USD in 1989, but by then the USD had fallen so far in relation to the yen that Sony was forced to sell the device between $800 to $1000 to break even. Thus the DAT system was mostly used by professionals, and Sony went back to the drawing board to create another cassette successor, only cheaper.

But the resulting MiniDisc machines still weren't cheap. The original recorder cost $750 USD while the portable Walkman playback-only model retailed for $549 USD in December 1992. Still hurt by the price, Sony only managed to sell less than 50,000 units during 1993. However over in Japan, the MiniDisc proved to become quite popular during the 1990s, especially with teenagers who scooped up MiniDisc singles.

What helped keep sales of the MiniDisc format at a minimal was the portable CD player and the recordable CD itself (CD-R). Diamond and Apple also put a hurting on the MiniDisc format thanks to the former's portable Rio MP3 player, and the latter's iPod. To gain more traction, Sony tried to reboot its format as Hi-MD, cramming more than three times the amount of storage on the disc.

But by 2007, Sony was reduced to selling only one MiniDisc model here in North America, the portable MZ-M200 Hi-MD Recorder which was packaged with a Sony microphone. In 2011, Sony said that it would discontinue MiniDisc Walkman products altogether, thus signaling the death of the MiniDisc format. Since its introduction in 1992, the Walkman MiniDisc player only sold 22 million units before it was discontinued.

Finally last week Sony said all MiniDisc devices will no longer be shipped as of March, but media and repair services will still be offered. Yet despite CD players, MP3 players and smartphones, the MiniDisc format managed to survive for 21 years, outliving another defunct Sony media format, the UMD.


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  • 12 Hide
    stygian , February 8, 2013 12:00 AM
    First 3.5" floppies and now this!

    Oh cruel world. Release me from this tainted orb.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    esrever , February 7, 2013 11:53 PM
    Da faq. who are buying these in the last 10 years for sony to keep shipping them?
  • 4 Hide
    bnot , February 7, 2013 11:53 PM
    More a testament to Sony's arrogance and inability to grasp the obvious.
  • 4 Hide
    joytech22 , February 7, 2013 11:55 PM
    People still used this format?
    The last time I saw one was in 1999 - When games men was still around in Australia and before the second extension of my local plaza was under construction. The mini discs used to sit just behind the counter.

    I was 8. I'm 20 now..

    Kinda makes me remember how awesome I felt when I had the money to go and buy a new gameboy game.
  • 8 Hide
    susyque747 , February 7, 2013 11:58 PM
    I always thought that the minidisk would have made an excellent replacement for the floppy disk. It's about the same size and in a protective case like a floppy but it is optical and can store allot.
  • 12 Hide
    stygian , February 8, 2013 12:00 AM
    First 3.5" floppies and now this!

    Oh cruel world. Release me from this tainted orb.
  • 8 Hide
    moshenokoji , February 8, 2013 12:00 AM
    I had one in high school, around 2003. It was pretty cool.
  • 2 Hide
    teaser , February 8, 2013 12:09 AM
    I didnt even know these were around anymore....jeez
  • 1 Hide
    mrmez , February 8, 2013 12:35 AM
    LOL, yeah I bailed close to 10 years ago. I thought I was so lucky to get good prices for my player and disc's because I thought it would be discontinued within months.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 8, 2013 12:54 AM
    Some of the best portable players-- MDR900 during the late 90's and early 2000's before mp3 players killed it.
    While the make and sound quality was exceptional, it was more of the "WOW, what IS that!" effect everytime I pull out my super slim Sony MD's. Or to use the stick remotes! (those those are so well made).
    ahhhh! I miss the 90's
  • 0 Hide
    bit_user , February 8, 2013 1:03 AM
    Minidisc was a great low-cost option for portable sound recording, which is how I used it.

    These days, it can't hold a candle to flash-based recorders. I'm surprised they weren't phased out years ago.
  • 0 Hide
    Cash091 , February 8, 2013 1:12 AM
    There was a time when people thought the mini disc was going to be to format of the future as opposed to MP3's and such... Optical media was cheaper than flash. I never had one of these but I did have plenty of portable CD players to throw around. One of which was a Sony Walkman which no matter how hard I moved it would just NOT skip!
  • 1 Hide
    fudoka711 , February 8, 2013 1:17 AM
    Heck, I don't even remember these. I went straight from casettes to cd's. Oh, and the GameBoy Color was pretty much the best portable thing ever created.
  • 4 Hide
    fnh , February 8, 2013 1:36 AM
    Oh, Sony and their unique formats. Only domestic markets save these lines for a while. Until global trends supersedes them. But nice job on Blu-Ray though. That was a tough fight.
  • 0 Hide
    Shin-san , February 8, 2013 1:44 AM
    I would have loved to use one of those for a recorder, that's if it weren't DRM'd like crazy
  • 1 Hide
    shadowfamicom , February 8, 2013 1:47 AM
    Loved my minidisc players. All my friends had CD players and those things would eat two AA batteries so fast. The minidisc players I had ran 40 hours (some players were even higher then that) on one AA battery. Lots of songs and lots of space (for the 128kb/s MP3s of the time), and the later models let you use the MD as a USB drive. I could shake that thing really hard non-stop while playing and it didn't miss a beat. What I always liked to point out was that any anime from the mid 90's all the way to well into 2008 that had a what looked like an MP3 player in it was actually a MiniDisc Player, but some of the english dubs or subtitles would just say MP3 player.

    FYI Sony Gold Blank MiniDiscs go for about $4 each on ebay at the moment, been watching there prices for a few months for an obscure format idea I had.
  • 1 Hide
    unwanted , February 8, 2013 1:51 AM
    Actually alot bands that play at clubs and pubs etc use to (and a few still do) use minidisc for their backup tracks/recording live gigs as well as qutie a number of small DJs because the recording quality is simply better.

    Yes you can get better equipment for recording live gigs or higher quality backing tracks but it all costs $$$ and i'm not talking about bands that go on world tours just people that noone jas heard of that only do local places to make min wage or less, it was alot cheaper to use minidisc then even a laptop setup with the appropriote gear.

    I would suspect now a basic qulaity digital setup is so cheap compared to 5 yers ago that even people that would have used been using minidisc back then have no reason to keep using it now and hence the drop in use and Sony finally stopping production, but up untill a few years ago Minidisc was still the cheapest option for high quality backtracking and live gig recording.
  • 0 Hide
    ethanolson , February 8, 2013 3:54 AM
    Woah! I didn't know these were still around. I picked one up in 1997 and was the shiz because of it. All my friends were wowed. I even got a CD player with an optical out to connect it to the MiniDisc recorder digitally. Then we hooked up a microphone to it and had it recording in my carall the time. We made a mix of crazy crap we said and laughed our butts off. It was good times.
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , February 8, 2013 3:58 AM
    I still have a high-end ES MD deck (working and in great condition) in the man-cave and a bunch of disks I'd recorded back in the day. I remember how stoked I was when I got the deck back in 1999. You could record tracks and edit them...woohoo. Wow, those were the days.
  • 0 Hide
    JackFrost860 , February 8, 2013 6:59 AM
    Apparently they are going to invent a solid state device that plays music from mp3 files. Some please tell them what has been going on for the last decade!
  • 0 Hide
    Super_Nova , February 8, 2013 7:48 AM
    Just a few weeks ago I saw a couple of high end full-sized MD decks (and also a couple of Phillips DCC decks) for €5 a piece at a local used good shop. I was really tempeted to get one because they where really cool and quite expensive back then.
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