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The background to Sony is steeped in innovation from a very humble begining. 

Launched in post-war Japan in 1946 as Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Company (Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo) the company that would later become Sony grew to be one of Japan’s greatest economic and technological achievements, a leader on the world’s stage and one of the best known brands ever built.

Founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita, the two men made a living repairing radios and making voltmeters before inventing their first consumer product, an automatic rice cooker.

 


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Masaru Ibuka One of the Sony Founders

The Sony name became official in 1958 though the name was in use before then. The first Sony branded product was a transistor radio which went on sale in 1955, the TR-55 the first radio in the world that would fit in a coat pocket.

The company has a long proud history of innovation and world firsts from the first Trinitron Colour Television in 1968, the colour video-cassette in 1971, the Walkman in 1979, the 3.5 inch floppy disk in 1989, an electronic camera in 1981, the world’s first CD player in 1982, and the first consumer camcorder in 1983 and the portable Diskman in 1984. Only rarely was the company trumped as it was with the launch of the Betamax VCR in 1975 which ultimately lost the consumer market to VHS, but remained pre-eminent in the professional market to this day.

The company’s success allowed it to go on a buying spree in the 1980-‘s acquiring CBS (which became Sony Music Entertainment) and Columbia Pictures (which became Sony Pictures Entertainment). In 2002 the company acquired AIWA and more recently Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 2004.

In 1994 the company developed what is now the world’s most popular gaming platform the PlayStation and will soon release the third generation PS3 which will include the world’s first high definition capable CD technology Blu-Ray. It remains to this day a major player in all consumer electronics markets from TVs, to Audio and Video equipment, car audio and car navigation systems, video and still digital cameras, notebook computers and so on.

However, the company has come under increasing pressure from innovative and low cost manufacturers in China and Korea. While at one point Sony staff numbered close to 200,000 world wide, in March this year there were 150,000 Sony employees responsible for a (2004) revenue in excess of $83 billion.

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