May 15, 2008

A Name Out Of History [2:13 pm]

Harvey Schein, Promoter of Betamax at Sony, Dies at 80

Harvey L. Schein, who led the Sony Corporation of America in the 1970s and doubled its size in spite of championing the failed Betamax video recording system and clashing with Sony’s top Japanese executives, died Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 80, and had homes in Manhattan; Washington, Conn.; and Sanibel, Fla.

[...] In 1976, alarmed by what they saw as the parasitic nature of the home recording of television programs and fearing that people who recorded television shows to watch later would never tune in to reruns, MCA/Universal and Walt Disney Productions filed suit against Sony, charging copyright infringement and asking for an injunction against sales of the Betamax.

The suit was highly public. Mr. Schein appeared on Walter Cronkite’s nightly newscast with Sidney Sheinberg, the president of MCA/Universal, who called him a “highwayman.” And even though the publicity did not ultimately save the Betamax, it did help build consumer enthusiasm for new possibilities in home entertainment.

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