MiniDisc was such a missed opportunity. Sony launched MD Data in 1993, but didn’t let them play audio MDs and didn’t ever manage to get third parties to buy them (and didn’t license the tech to allow third-party drives), so they lost a small market to Zip and LS-120 instead of entirely replacing the floppy disk. When I looked at them, Zip disks (100MB) and LS-120 (120MB) were both about £10/disk, whereas MiniDiscs were about £1.50. At that price, they were still quite a bit more expensive than a floppy (20-30p, though closer to £1 for reliable ones), but in a close enough ballpark that the transition would have been okay. And they were smaller than floppy disks, whereas Zip and LS-120 were similar sizes (a bit bigger).
MD later went to 650MB and 1GB. We could have had 650MB floppy disks in the late ’90s if Sony had valued the computer ecosystem as much as their music business and not been so obsessed with being first-party supplier of everything.
A college buddy was an exchange student in Japan around the turn of the century and brought back a MD Walkman and discs which I lusted over just in terms of physical design. Having owned a “portable” Zip drive, MD in the computer ecosystem at that point would have killed Zip dead for me.
More examples of Sony’s NIH habit: Memory Stick and UMD.
MiniDisc was pretty much the BetaMax of the 90s.
This is pretty cool, as it doesn’t involve the analog loop.
A clear step forward, but a lot of progress should still be possible, by tapping the hardware directly, rather than interacting with the original firmware.