Akio Morita – The man that changed Technology.
Akio Morita was born on the 21st day of January 1921 to a family who was involved in the production of sake, miso and soy sauce in a village named Kosugaya which is now currently a part of Tokoname city. His father, Kyuzaemon introduced him into the family business with the hope that Akio would take over from him, but Akio hadn’t much interest in it. His interest was in mathematics and physics. So, with that enthusiasm, he enrolled into the Osaka Imperial University to study physics and in 1944, he bagged a degree in physics. His first invention was a rice cooker that he built for the family business. However the cooker burned rice instead of boiling it. Only 100 were sold. But failure didn’t deter the entrepreneurial spirit in Morita, who taught at university while putting in experimental hours in the lab. He later served in world war two as a sub-lieutenant under the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was while serving, in the Navy’s Wartime Research Committee, he met Masaru Ibuka who later turned his business partner.
When Akio Morita turned 25 years old, he joined a telecommunication venture called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha; a Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation and forerunner of Sony Corporation founded by his friend, Masaru Ibuka in 1946 with an initial capital of ¥190,000 and about 20 employees working under him. Morita’s family invested handsomely in Sony during its early period and became the largest shareholder in the company as of then.
The birth of Sony
The bond, understanding and business ideas shared between Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita became strong and enviable. Coming and working together as a team in the Sony company helped the company to grow in strength and ideas that in 1949, the company developed a magnetic recording tape. In 1950, they sold the first recording tape in Japan, and in 1957, the company created the first and fully transistorized pocket size radio. In the year 1958, they decided to rename the company Sony which was derived from the Latin word, sonus meaning sound.
In 1960, the company, Sony, went ahead and produce the first transistor television. And in the same year, the Sony Corporation of America was established in the United States of America. In 1961, Sony Corporation was listed in the New York Stock Exchange, making it the first Japanese company to achieve such feat, and in 1973, Sony received an Emmy Award for the Trinition television-set technology they created. They didn’t stop there; they kept on researching and working endlessly to push the company, Sony to greater heights with phenomenal productions from them that really changed the world.
In 1978, before the first VHS videotape recording format came out, they produced the first Betamax video recorder. Later, in 1979, they produced one of the world’s portable music player and named it the Walkman, and in 1984, they made and launched the Discman series that extended the Walkman to a portable Compact Disc (CD) products. Even the late Steve Jobs would study this company carefully. What probably impressed Jobs the most at the end was the finish and quality of Sony products. When Morita gave Jobs a Walkman as a present Jobs would take it apart and looked at every single part. How the fit and finish was done, even heading down to the Sony factories to check out how they worked.
In 1988, Sony purchased CBS Records Group that consisted of CBS labels like Columbia Records, Epic Records and other labels under CBS Records Group, and in 1989, they bought Columbia Pictures, Tristar Pictures and other labels that were under the Columbia Pictures Entertainment; they bought the companies in entirety which expanded their company and productions.
Morita later suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and stepped down as Sony chairman in 1994. But before his sickness, he authored a book in 1966 and titled it Never Mind School Records. In this book, he talked about how school records are not prerequisites in being successful, either are they important vices for one to be a business mogul or have and develop a business oriented mind and skills. He later wrote an autobiography in 1986 which he titled Made In Japan.
Morita received series of awards for his relentless efforts in shaping the world through Sony. Awards like the Albert Medal in1982 by the Royal Society of Arts in United Kingdom, making him the first Japanese to receive such honor, The Legion of Honor award, Order of the Sacred Treasure award by the Emperor of Japan and other awards.
Morita later died of pneumonia on October 3rd 1999 and was posthumously awarded the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun in 1999. His efforts and works still live on to this day.