April 26, 2011 — Article
Sony president and chairman Norio Ohga, often described as the ‘father of the CD’ has died at the age of 81.
His long-term leadership of the company is generally credited with turning it from an AV competitor into a worldwide entertainment media colossus.
He also helped to establish the compact disc as the world’s dominant audio medium, driving the company’s introduction of the format, along with DVD and MiniDisc.
He was also responsible for the launch of the company’s game division, Sony Computer Entertainment, as well as the development of the PlayStation, and Sony’s buyout of Columbia Pictures to create Sony Music Entertainment.
A lifelong music fan, he originally trained to be an opera singer, became an established orchestral conductor and was chairman of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra until his death.
He began his career with Sony in 1953 while still a student – he wrote a letter to complain about the quality of a Sony tape recorder, and was offered a job as a part-time consultant.
After joining Sony full-time in 1959 he quickly climbed the corporate ladder, becoming president of CBS Sony Records in the 1970s while still in his thirties.
An early convert to CD, he helped to define the format, causing it to be a 12cm disc with a 75min running time. As a classical music fan he wanted to be able to hear all of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony without a break.
Sony launched its first CDs and players in 1982, and within five years CDs were outselling LPs in Japan.
As Sony’s president from 1982 he also encouraged Sony’s development of DVD and MiniDisc, before becoming CEO in 1989 and company chairman in 1994. He remained so until his 73rd birthday in 2003 retired from the board and took the title of Honorary Chairman.
Sony’s current Chairman, CEO and President, Sir Howard Stringer, said: “When I first joined Sony in 1997, Ohga-san was serving on the frontlines of Sony management as Chairman and CEO. His numerous and successful endeavours were well-known both inside and outside of Sony. By redefining Sony as a company encompassing both hardware and software, Ohga-san succeeded where other Japanese companies failed."