For demystification of the Beta format, check out
Not necessarily a pretty site, but chock-full of information about the format from someone who has been with the format almost from the beginning, and still sticks with it.
1-hour blank tapes? Maybe at BI, which few Beta units recorded after the early '80s. The SLP speed of VHS tapes had a lot to do with Beta's downfall. Then the rental chains started skewing toward VHS, just as they have in recent years toward DVD. When retail films stopped duping the VHS copies from Beta masters, and went the other direction, Beta was as good as dead. Only a few dinosaurs like yours truly still keep the format alive - all my best stuff is on Beta, after all! :>