The M Format
The M format was a professional video tape format developed by Matsushita (Panasonic) and RCA in 1982. It was intended to compete with Sony's Betacam format. M was also marketed by Panasonic and Ampex under the brand name Recam (REcording CAMera).
The M format used a ½" analogue component system and the tape looked the same as a VHS cassette, in fact the tape transport system was initially the same as VHS. "M" refers to the way the tape was wrapped around the scanner within the transport system (obviously the same as VHS).
The main differences were that M recorded using a component system whereas VHS used a composite format, and M recorded at a higher tape speed.
M tape used a 650oe range Cobalt Modified Oxide. Linear tape speed was 8.0ips.
This format was never very popular and surviving components are rare. The following reasons are reported to have contributed to M's downfall:
- RCA's broadcast division closed down in 1984.
- The M format was not well marketed by Panasonic.
- There was some confusion (and damaged tapes) caused by the similarity to VHS.
M was replaced by MII in 1986.