It’s 11 April, and today we celebrate the birthday of Masaru Ibuka (11 Apr 1908 – 19 Dec 1998), Japanese electronics pioneer and co-founder of the Sony Corporation.
Sony started as a small post-WWII electronics and radio repair company, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, founded by Ibuka, who was joined soon after by his colleague, Akio Morita. Ibuka and Morita’s company changed it’s name to Sony in 1958. The name ‘Sony’, devised largely to make the company name easy for Westerners to pronounce and remember, was a combination of the Latin word ‘Sonus’ (the root of sonic and sound) and the familiar American term ‘Sonny’.
From these small beginnings grew the Sony Corporation, one of the industry giants that changed the face of the Japanese electronics sector. Where earlier Japanese firms were more likely to simply make copies of Western products at cheaper prices, Sony was an innovator. Some of the many achievements of the Sony Corporation include introducing transistor technology into Japan, developing the world’s first transistor TV, pioneering colour television and introducing many consumer-electronics innovations such as the Walkman and the compact disk player. In the digital age, Sony has emerged as an important player in the mobile phone market, and as a true contender in the digital photography market, presenting a viable alternative to more traditional players such as Nikon and Canon. Through their PlayStation gaming consoles, Sony is also one of the main players in the electronic gaming industry.
In all, Sony Corporation is without doubt one of the most comprehensive electronic entertainment companies in the world, and in 2012 was ranked 87th in the Fortune Global 500.
It is not an overstatement to say that, through the Sony Corporation, Ibuka played an absolute key role in building international confidence in the Japanese electronics industry, and through that, rebuilding the Japanese economy in particular, and Asian economies in general.