- Akio Morita
Akio Morita Born January 26, 1921
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Died October 3, 1999(aged 78)
Nationality Japanese Known for Sony
Morita's family was involved in sake, miso and soy sauce production in the Chita Peninsula, Aichi Prefecture since 1665. He was the oldest of four siblings and his father Kyuzaemon trained him as a child to take over the family business. Akio, however, found his true calling in mathematics and physics, and in 1944 he graduated from Osaka Imperial University with a degree in physics. He later joined the navy and served as a lieutenant during World War II. During his service, Morita met his future business partner Masaru Ibuka in the Navy's Wartime Research Committee.
On May 7, 1946, Morita and Ibuka founded Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, the forerunner of Sony Corporation) with about 20 employees and initial capital of ¥190,000. Ibuka was 38 years old, Morita, 25. Morita's family invested in Sony during the early period and was the largest shareholder.
In 1949, the company developed magnetic recording tape and in 1950, sold the first tape recorder in Japan. In 1957, it produced a pocket-sized radio (the first to be fully transistorized), and in 1958, Morita and Ibuka decided to rename their company Sony (sonus is Latin for sound, and Sonny-boys is Japanese slang for "whiz kids"). Morita was an advocate for all the products made by the Sony Corporation. However, since the radio was slightly too big to fit in a shirt pocket, Morita made his employees wear shirts with slightly larger pockets to give the radio a "pocket sized" appearance. In 1960, it produced the first transistor television in the world. In 1973, Sony received an Emmy Award for its Trinitron television-set technology. In 1975, it released the first Betamax home video recorder, a year before VHS came out. In 1979, the Walkman was introduced, making it the world's first portable music player. In 1984, Sony launched the Discman series which extended their Walkman brand to portable CD products.
In 1960, the Sony Corporation of America (SONAM, currently abbreviated as SCA) was established in the United States. In 1961, Sony Corporation was the first Japanese company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, in the form of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), which are traded over-the-counter. Sony bought CBS Records Group, which consisted of Columbia Records, Epic Records and other CBS labels in 1988 and Columbia Pictures Entertainment (Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures and others) in 1989.
On November 25, 1994, Morita stepped down as Sony chairman after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while playing tennis. His successor, Norio Ohga, had joined the company after sending Morita a letter denouncing the poor quality of the company's tape recorders.
Morita was vice chairman of the Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations), and was a member of the Japan-U.S. Economic Relations Group, also known as the "Wise Men's Group". He was also the third Japanese chairman of the Trilateral Commission.
In 1966, Morita wrote a book called Gakureki Muyō Ron (学歴無用論, Never Mind School Records), where he stresses that school records are not important to success or one's business skills. In 1986, Morita wrote an autobiography titled Made in Japan. He co-authored the 1991 essay The Japan That Can Say No with politician Shintaro Ishihara, where they criticized American business practices and encouraged Japanese to take a more independent role in business and foreign affairs.
Morita was awarded the Albert Medal by the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Arts in 1982, the first Japanese to receive the honor. Two years later, he received the prestigious National Order of the Legion of Honor, and in 1991, was awarded the First Class Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Emperor of Japan. In 1993, he was awarded an honorary British knighthood (KBE). Morita received the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award from the University of Manitoba in 1987.
Morita suffered a stroke in 1993, during a game of tennis. On October 3, 1999, Morita died of pneumonia at the age of 78.
- Akio Morita Library
- Time magazine, AKIO MORITA: Guru Of Gadgets
- Time Asia, Time 100: Akio Morita
- Sony Biographical notes
- PBS notes
- Full Biography at World of Biography
- Sony Encyclopedia Article
- Morita, Akio. Made in Japan (New York: Dutton, 1986, ISBN 0451151712)
- Morita, Akio. Never Mind School Records (1966) (ISBN 4022604158 in Japanese)
- Morita, Akio (Co-Author) and Shintaro Ishihara. The Japan That Can Say No (Simon & Schuster, 1991, ISBN 0671758535, ISBN 4334051588 in Japanese)
- List of books authored by Akio Morita at WorldCat
Chairman of Sony Corporation
Business and Economics:Akio Morita (Japan) Arts, Literature and Culture:Akira Kurosawa (Japan) Science and Technology: Moral and Spiritual Leadership: AsianWeek · CNN · TIME Asia
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