Machine Design

75 years of Innovators: Akio Morita

Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka founded Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K. (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp.) with about $375 U.S. in a bombed-out department store.

In the 75 years since Machine Design began publication, here are some of the people who have changed the way we live.

Akio Morita
Introducing the world to transistor radios

The company built Japan's first tape recorder, but it was too big and bulky to be practical. In the 1950s, the company got a license from Bell Labs to build transistors. Ibuka set his sights on a pocket-size transistor radio. A U.S. company built this radio first, but it was more a toy than an actual product. But a version spearheaded by Morita and Ibuka took over the market. Throughout the company's beginnings, Morita was the driving force in marketing, globalization, finance, and human resources, while Ibuka focused on technological research and product development.

In 1960, the now renamed Sony Corp. of America was established in the U.S. Morita moved to the U.S. and focused on developing new sales avenues. Many products in Sony's history arose from Morita's creativity and innovative ideas including the Walkman and VCR. To expand Sony's capabilities outside electronics, Morita entered the music software business by establishing CBS/Sony Group Inc. as well as a joint venture with Prudential Life Insurance Co. of America. Sony eventually acquired CBS Records Inc. and Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc.

Morita's strength was his knowledge of Western and Eastern cultures and the ability to combine the best parts of each. This expertise made him a sought-after consultant on U.S.-Japanese trade issues. All this from a man who was expected to take over his family's 400-yr-old sake business.

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