What would you say are some of the most innovative and important pieces of consumer technology to have emerged from the mists of the past 70 years? The personal computer? Yeah, that should be on the list. What about the mobile phone? The video game console? Oh yes, most definitely! Amongst a plethora of other tech we take for granted.
This year sees one of the world's biggest tech companies celebrate its 70th anniversary, a year that saw them release the world's most powerful games console, the #PS4Pro. And having such an illustrious history as being one of the leading voices in a chorus of futuristic tech, I don't really see #Sony stopping any time soon.
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How Sony Was Founded
On May 7th, 1946 in Tokyo, Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita came together to found Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (TTK - Tokyo Telecommunications Laboratory), a tech company born with the purpose of rebuilding a war-torn Japan and the culture of its people through advancements in technology.
Starting off with a team of just 20 people, with little to no scientific equipment, machinery or finance to hand, the young engineers at Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo would sift through the ruins of the city and create things from scrap. They made screwdrivers from motorcycle springs and used telephone wires as electrical cables in their self made electrical coils, to name but a few things.
The engineers worked extremely hard and often into the night, when they would sometimes find themselves locked inside the Shirokiya department store that their office was situated within. But this was Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo after all. The engineers quickly created copies of the keys so they could exit the building in the wee hours of the morning.
This was as it was set out in the company's founding prospectus, the manifesto that outlined why Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo existed and how it should be run in the years moving ahead. The manifesto declared Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo "must avoid problems which befall large corporations, while we create and introduce technologies which large corporations cannot match. The reconstruction of Japan depends on the development of dynamic technologies."
But in order to move ahead the company needed to make money, specifically Japan's new Yen brought in after World War II, and lots of it. That's where an electrically heated cushion came in handy.
With there being a shortage of pretty much everything in post-war Japan, an electrically heated cushion sold like crazy during the winter months, but there was to be a problem; a problem that could have tarnished TTK's name before they began to prosper.
The heated cushion was basically a wire filament slipped in between paper, and then sealed within a cover comprised of cloth and leather. It was discovered that the cushion was prone to overheating and burning objects it was placed on. This led Ibuka and co. to sell the product under a false moniker, "Ginza Nessuru Shokai" (Ginza Heating Company).
In 1958, Sony was born after a rebranding of the company.
The Sony name was created by combining “SONUS,” the original Latin for “SONIC,” meaning sound, with “SONNY,” denoting small size, or a youthful boy. It was chosen for its simple pronunciation that is the same in any language.
Sony Of The Future
70 years later, the PS4 Pro released into a market that was once dominated by Sony products, especially in the '80s and '90s. Then Sony as we knew it almost vanished after the financial recession of the mid-to late '00s. PlayStation faced increased competition and the catastrophic earthquake of 2011 only exacerbated things.
In this time the company saw its market capitalization dip from $100 billion to $11 billion. Thousands of jobs were lost as the company restructured, severing parts of its empire — like its franchise of VAIO computers — and choosing to focus the majority of its attention on its thriving PlayStation and underrated Xperia smartphone brands.
In 1995, the PlayStation, arguably Sony's most important innovation, came to the west and changed the way we play forever. And if it wasn't for Nintendo's hubris, Sony may have never entered the gaming market in the first place.
Back in 1988, Sony and Nintendo stepped into a joint venture to create a CD-ROM drive for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), or Super Famicom in Japan. Though Nintendo denied the existence of the tech, come '91's Consumer Electronics Show, Sony revealed a SNES with a built in CD-ROM drive to the world.
Not more than a heartbeat later, Nintendo revealed that it would be cancelling the partnership due to disagreement as to how the two parties would share revenue from SNES CD-ROM. Nintendo announced their decision to partner with Phillips and moved ahead with the same ill-fated CD-i technology.
Sony, incensed from Nintendo's betrayal, decided to pour their energy behind the "Play Station" after Ken Kutaragi, the father of PlayStation, reminded then Sony President Norio Ohga of the humiliation of the situation. And the rest, as it is, is history.
A Few Of Sony's Most Groundbreaking Inventions
Type G Tape Recorder (1955)
Japan's very first tape recorder, the type G was widely used by the Japanese government and featured a tape speed of 19cm per second.
At its time of release, this TV was the slimmest (9.9mm) and the lightest (12.2kg) in the world. And it was entirely wireless, so you could put it anywhere and not have to worry about breaking yourself on wires.
Betamax Video Tape (1975)
The direct competitor to JVC's VHS, Betamax was generally lauded as being the better format for video, but eventually faltered when JVC opted to create their own format rather than create Betamax products for Sony. This led to VHS' dominance over the market, and the lack of space in our parents' attics.
WM-20 Walkman (1983)
After '79s TPS-L2 Walkman revolutionized the way we interacted with music on the go, Sony released the WM-20 that was as big as a cassette tape's case. Now the Walkman was to become as vital as breath.
So in 70 years we went from Japan's first tape recorder to an actually affordable #VirtualReality system in PS #VR. I'll raise a glass to Sony. You may have nearly ruined Spider-Man movies for me, but you revolutionized the technology I love so dearly. So thanks!
If you haven't seen PS4 Pro's nostalgia-soaked latest advert, then you're a proper geek, lame-o...
[Source: Sony Corporate Info]