Akio Morita

Akio Morita Photo

Akio Morita was a businessman best known as the co-founder of Sony. With the desire to do something great and something different he established Sony Corporation in the U.S. He is credited for creating several of the Sony products.

Morita was born on 26th January 1921 in Nagoya, Japan. As the oldest sibling he was trained to take over the family business. However Morita found himself being interested in physics and mathematics. He graduated from Osaka Imperial University in 1944 after which he entered the Imperial Japanese Navy and served in the Second World War. This was where he met his future business partner Masaru Ibuka. Upon his return from the war Morita accepted the offer from the Tokyo Institute of Technology to join the faculty. In 1946 Morita and Ibuka founded Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K consisting of twenty employees and a capital of 190,000 yen. The company made the magnetic tape recorder, a pocket sized radio which was fully transistorized and many more innovative products.

In 1960 Akio Morita launched the company in the United States and renamed it ‘Sony’. The same year they produced the very first transistor television. In 1973 Sony got an Emmy Award for creating the Trinitron TV-set technology. Next in line was the home video recorder, the VHS format and then the Walkman, the first portable music player in the world. In 1984 the Discman series was released. Sony Corporation of America was the first Japanese company to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange. Along with his relation with Sony his other affiliations include the vice chairmanship of Japan Business Federation and membership of the Japan-U.S Economic Relations Group. Morita is the third Japanese to be chairman of the Trilateral Commission.

Most of the Sony’s success can be attributed to Morita. With his inventive ideas and creative thinking, he produced new cultures and lifestyles with products such as the Walkman and the video cassette recorder, which were groundbreaking ideas of the time. In 1966 Morita wrote a book called ‘Never Mind School’ based on human resources. His view point that schools are not important in carrying the job out is becoming popular belief nowadays in Japan. He was very eager to diversify the company’s operations to other things besides electronics. Thus they moved in the music software business and started CBS/Sony Group Inc. In 1979 they diversified into the financial arena by establishing the Sony Prudential Life Insurance Co. Ltd. He also acquired CBS Records Inc. and Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc.

Morita received several awards for his outstanding achievements. He was given the Albert Medal by the UK’s Royal Society of Arts in 1982. In 1984 he received the Legion of Honor and in 1991 the Emperor of Japan gave him the first Class of Order of the Sacred Treasure. In 1987 the University of Manitoba awarded Morita with the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award. He was presented with the honorary British Knighthood in 1993. After his death he was recognized with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. He left the chairmanship of Sony on 25th November 1994. Morita died due to pneumonia in October 1999.