Akio Morita: history of Sony creation
Akio Morita was a Japanese businessman who was co-founder, CEO (from 1971) and chairman (from 1976 to 1994) of Sony Corporation, a world-renowned consumer electronics manufacturer.
Morita came from a family with a long tradition of brewing and should have continued the family business. Instead, he developed an early interest in technology, eventually enrolling at Osaka Imperial University and receiving a degree in physics in 1944. During World War II, he was assigned to the Armory in Yokosuka, where he met Ibuka Masaru, an industry representative on the War Research Committee. Together they worked on thermal guidance systems and night vision devices.
Akio Morita: Sony history
After the war, Morita worked with Ibuka to establish a communications laboratory in Tokyo. In 1946 they founded the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (Tōkyō Tsūshin Kōgyō), which was renamed Sony Corporation in 1958. Morita’s main tasks were financial and commercial matters; he was responsible for marketing Sony products worldwide. Morita and Ibuka’s successes also included early consumer versions of the tape recorder (1950; Ibuka had developed a tape recorder the year before), the transistor radio (1955), and the “pocket” transistor radio (1957).
Morita had a corporate vision that was global in its scope. Indeed, the name Sony was chosen after the founders searched dictionaries trying to find a name that could be pronounced in any language. (Sony was derived from the Latin sonus, “sound.”) In 1961, under Morita’s leadership, Sony became the first Japanese company to sell its stock on the New York Stock Exchange. In addition, in 1963 Morita moved with his family to the United States for a year to better understand American business practices and American thinking. Once Sony’s products began to sell well in the international market, he opened factories in the United States and Europe, in addition to factories in Japan.
Thanks to Ibuki’s innovative consumer products and Morita’s business thinking, Sony became a major competitor in the electronics industry. Morita pioneered the concept of branding by making sure that Sony’s name was prominently displayed on all products, and refused to sell products to other companies for packaging under their brands. The corporation also used American-style advertising. In addition, Morita helped Sony thrive by recognizing the potential of new products. It was at Morita’s urging that the Sony Walkman portable tape recorder was designed and marketed (company insiders doubted the device would be popular). The Walkman was one of Sony’s most popular consumer products in the 1980s and ’90s.
As Sony grew, so did Morita’s role in the international business community. He was vice chairman of Keidanren (Japanese Federation of Economic Organizations), a group that exerts a powerful influence on the Japanese government’s business and economic decisions. Morita was also a longtime member of the “Wise Men” (this is the unofficial name of the eight-member Japan-U.S. Economic Liaison Group).
Morita was directly involved in the management of Sony until his retirement in 1994. His autobiography, Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony, was published in 1986.