- Morita, Akio
born Jan. 26, 1921, Nagoya, Japandied Oct. 3, 1999, TokyoJapanese entrepreneur, cofounder of Sony Corp.The son of an old sake-brewing family, Morita was trained as a physicist. In 1946 he and Ibuka Masaru cofounded the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp., which changed its name to Sony Corp. in 1958. Primarily responsible for finances and marketing, Morita adopted U.S. advertising techniques and established Sony's first U.S. plant in 1972. He became chief executive officer in 1971 and chairman of the board in 1976, in which post he served until 1994. Under his direction Sony became a world-renowned manufacturer of consumer electronics.
* * *▪ 2000Japanese businessman (b. Jan. 26, 1921, Nagoya, Japan—d. Oct. 3, 1999, Tokyo, Japan), was one of the founders of the Sony Corp. and in his leadership positions there—which included CEO (1971–93) and chairman of the board (1976–94)—became one of the 20th century's most influential industrialists. The pioneering company, which in 1963 became the first Japanese firm to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, introduced a number of electronic products that became nearly ubiquitous and helped erase the image of the “Made in Japan” label as representing tacky souvenir items and cheaply made imitations of finer products. Morita was educated at Osaka Imperial University and graduated in 1944 with a degree in physics, although his father had urged him to study economics so that he would be prepared to take over the family's sake brewery. While serving in the navy, he met electronics specialist Masaru Ibuka, and in 1946 the two incorporated as a small electronics concern, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp.). Morita concentrated his efforts on marketing, Ibuka on technological development, and before long, they produced Japan's first tape recorder. In 1953 they secured the rights to the transistor, and two years later introduced the first Japanese transistor radio, the TR-55. This was the first product to carry the brand name Sony—a combination of the term sonny, because Morita referred to himself and his partner as “sonny boys” and wanted to promote a youthful image, and the Latin word sonus (“sound”)—but it was not until later (1958) that Sony Corp. became the company's official name. In 1957 Sony introduced a small transistor radio that it promoted as being pocket-size, although custom-made shirts with oversized pockets had to be provided to Sony salesmen after it was discovered that the radios were slightly too large. A transistor television set followed in 1960 and the innovative Trinitron colour TV in 1968. In 1975 the company introduced the Betamax videocassette recorder. It was the first successful home VCR, but it eventually lost out to the VHS format. Successes with more permanence included the Walkman personal stereo cassette player, introduced in 1979, which made it possible for people to carry their music with them easily, and the compact disc player, which was first sold in 1982 and eventually rendered the long-playing vinyl record virtually extinct. Sony further expanded its horizons with the purchase of the CBS Records Group in 1988 and Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc. in 1989. Morita's autobiography, Made in Japan, was published in 1987. Morita, who retired as CEO in 1993 after suffering a stroke, left the chairmanship of the board the following year.
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