For the Love of Music
May 4, 2011 11:49 AM   Subscribe

"A ballet dancer needs a mirror to perfect her style, her technique. A singer needs the same -- an aural mirror."
In 1950 and '51, Japan’s first reel-to-reel tape recorders, the "G-Type" (for gov't use) and the "H-1" (for home use) were released by a company named Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. Music student Norio Ohga was unimpressed by the wobbly sound of "Talking Paper," so he wrote a note complaining to the firm's founders, who hired him. Mr. Ohga never achieved his original dream of becoming a baritone opera singer, but the future President of TTK, (later renamed Sony,) would still make an indelible, global impact on the world of music -- including the development and introduction of the compact disc. Mr. Ohga died on April 24, 2011.

Sony's corporate website has a fascinating history of the company's first 51 years.

Quote at the top of this post is from Mr. Ohga's original letter to the founders of TTK, and was taken from here.
posted by zarq (3 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Why was the standard for compact discs established at a maximum of 74 minutes of music? Rumor has it that Mr. Ohga and three other people wanted them to contain all of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
The Ninth Symphony runs over an hour, even when performed at breakneck tempo. In the era of LP records, it generally took three sides — and hence had to be coupled with one of Beethoven’s shorter symphonies, like the Eighth, to complete a two-disc set.

When Sony and Philips were negotiating a single industry standard for the audio compact disc in 1979 and 1980, the story is that one of four people (or some combination of them) insisted that a single CD be able to hold all of the Ninth Symphony. The four were the wife of Sony chairman Akio Morita, speaking up for her favorite piece of music; Sony VP Norio Ohga (the company’s point man on the CD), recalling his studies at the Berlin Conservatory; Mrs. Ohga (her favorite piece, too); and conductor Herbert von Karajan, who recorded for Philips subsidiary Polygram and whose Berlin Philharmonic recording of the Ninth clocked in at 66 minutes.

posted by zarq at 11:51 AM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Very good post zarq. Sony is one of the examples I use to argue why Japan's economy is so different than that of China. Japan's post war economy produced a huge number of innovations in technology and production - all Made in Japan. Sony, Panasonic, Sharp - not to mention Toyota, Nissan, etc. - are all home grown Japanese companies. It's early in Amsterdam, but I could probably name another dozen well-known Japanese brands.

I happily owned a Sony Walkman - not only the i-Phone of its day, but the mobile phone of its day. There was nothing like it until Sony put it on the market.

The most famous Chinese company in my industry - Huawei - doesn't really do anything except make copies of Cisco's hardware for one third of the price.

Some may argue that I am being unkind in the timelines, but note that the subject of this FPP happened in 1950 - 5 years after Japan was nuked into submission - and more or less the same time Japan ended her occupation of China. The roads have certainly been different, but they started more or less in the same time and same place from in the same condition.

The Japanese rock - not by comparison - they just rock.
posted by three blind mice at 8:27 PM on May 4, 2011

Sony -- great with hardware, pretty shitty when it comes to software and security.
posted by bardic at 10:26 PM on May 4, 2011

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