This Day in Tech History

On This Day . . .

The Launching of Consumer Microelectronics

Made_20in_20Japan sony-corporation

May 7, 1946:  Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later named Sony) is Founded with 8 Employees

The name “Sony” was chosen for the brand as a mix of two words. Its founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka derived the name from the Latin word “Sonus“, which is the root of sonic and sound.  The other was “Sonny“, a familiar term used in 1950s America to call a boy,  “Sonny Boys”.  It connoted smart and presentable young men, they considered themselves to be “Sonny Boys”.


At the time of the change, it was extremely unusual for a Japanese company to use Roman letters to spell its name instead of writing it in kanji (adopted logographic Chinese characters – hanzi – that are used in the modern Japanese writing system).

The first Sony-branded product, the TR-55 transistor radio, appeared in 1955 but the company name did not change to Sony until January 1958.


Sony found its beginnings in the wake of World War II. In 1946, Masaru Ibuka started an electronics shop in a bomb-damaged department store building in Tokyo. The company had $530 in capital and a total of eight employees.


Type-G Recorder

The next year, he was joined by his colleague, Akio Morita, and they founded a company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation). The company built Japan’s first tape recorder, called the Type-G.  In 1958 the company name was changed to Sony.

In the early 1950s, Ibuka traveled in the United States and heard about Bell Labs’ invention of the transistor.  He convinced Bell to license the transistor technology to his Japanese company, for use in communications.  Ibuka’s company made the first commercially successful transistor radios.

According to Schiffer, Sony’s TR-63 radio “cracked open the U.S. market and launched the new industry of consumer microelectronics.”  By the mid-1950s, American teens had begun buying portable transistor radios in huge numbers, helping to propel the fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units in 1955 to 5 million units by the end of 1968.


In the mid-1970s Sony introduces the CRF-320A multiband radio with digital tuning. Zenith Radio Corporation had long been a leader in the high priced multiband radio market with the Trans-Oceanic line, but Sony provided digital tuning (LED display) versus Zenith’s analog slide rule tuning in the model R7000 for about the same price. By the 1980s Sony would become the leader of multiband radios with the ICF-2001 and ICF-2010 digital multiband radios using LCD display. Zenith would end the Trans-Oceanic line.



Zenith R7000

Zenith R7000

Oh yeah, the Sony Walkman introduced a change in music listening habits by allowing people to carry music with them and listen to music through lightweight headphones (imagine that).


Sony is ranked 87th on the 2012 list of Fortune Global 500.

Sony’s principal business operations include Sony Corporation

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Music Entertainment

Sony Mobile Communications (formerly Sony Ericsson)

Sony Financial

Sony is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders and third-largest television manufacturer in the world, after Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

…did I mention PlayStation? imagesCAURBRBQ


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