|Sony will cease all MiniDisc player production in March, reports Japanese site Ashashi. Originally designed to replace casettes, the MiniDisc format never caught on in that way. However, a loyal fan base in Japan has managed to keep the format alive for the past 20 years until now.
The format uses a magneto-optical disc that is encased in a plastic case with a sliding mechanism to protect the disc when not being read. Users who remember 3.5-inch floppy discs will be familiar with the fundamental design approach. It allowed users to record their own music in Sony’s proprietary ATRAC encoding, although later developed the capability to allow users to record music in the linear PCM digital format for improved audio quality. Recordings could be up to 74 minutes long initially, although this was extended with compression technology to 80 minutes.
Only around three years after its introduction, users were able to use the more common CD format to start burning their own discs. Re-writable vesions of the CDs also started to appear, negating any benefit of the less commonly available MiniDisc format. Sony sold over 27 million MiniDisc players during its manufacturing run. MiniDiscs will continue to be manufactured for the time being, but only Onkyo will continue to make MiniDisc players following Sony’s exit. [via Engadget]