From Sega Retro

Sony logo.svg
Founded: 1946-05
Headquarters: Japan

Sony Corporation (Japanese katakana: ソニー) is a primarily consumer electronics global corporation based in Tokyo, Japan.


It was founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita on May 7, 1946 as the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering with about 20 employees. Their first consumer product, in the late 1940s, was a rice boiler. As it grew into a major international corporation, Sony acquired other companies with longer histories, including Columbia Records (the oldest continuously produced brand name in recorded sound, dating back to 1888). Today Norio Ohga is Honorary Chairman, Nobuyuki Idei is Chairman and CEO, and Kunitake Ando is president of the corporation.

Brand change

When Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo was looking for a romanized name to use to market themselves, they strongly considered using their initials, TTK. The primary reason they did not, is that the railway company Tokyo Kyuko was known as TKK.

The name "Sony" was chosen for the brand as a mix of the Latin word sonus, which is the root of sonic and sound, and the English word "sunny." At the time of the change, it was extremely odd for a Japanese company to use Roman letters to spell its name, much less the phonetic script used in the Japanese writing, instead of Chinese characters.

The move was not without opposition; TTK's principal bank at the time, Mitsui, had strong feelings about the name. They pushed for a name such as Sony Electronic Industries, or Sony Teletech. Akio Morita was firm, however, as he did not want the company name tied to any particular industry. Eventually, both Ibuka and Mitsui Bank's chairman gave their approval.


In 1988, Sony acquired CBS (Columbia) Records Group from CBS. It was renamed "Sony Music Entertainment".

In 2000, Sony had sales of US $63 billion and 189,700 employees. Sony acquired Aiwa corporation in 2002.

Sony also owns television channels in India and channels aimed at Indian communities in Europe.

On July 20, 2004, the EU approved a 50-50 merger between Sony Music Entertainment and BMG. The new company will be called Sony BMG and will, together with RIAA partner Universal Music Group, control 60% of the world wide music market.

On September 13, 2004 a Sony-led consortium finalised the deal to purchase famous film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for about $5 Billion, including $2Bn in debts.


In 2004, the London Borough of Camden, England brought Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) against Sony Music UK and BMG for alleged fly posting. Illegal fly posting by the two companies is thought to save them £8 million a year in advertising costs in Camden and cost the Borough £250,000 to clean up. Failing to comply with an ASBO can result in a jail sentence of up to 5 years.


Sony has historically been notable for pushing its own in-house standards for new recording and storage technologies, which are often different from those of other manufacturers or of market trends and standards. The most infamous of these was the videotape format war of the early 1980s, when Sony marketed its Betamax system for video cassette recorders against the VHS format developed by JVC. In the end, VHS gained critical mass in the marketplace and became the worldwide standard for consumer VCRs and Sony had no choice but to capitulate. Sony has continued the same tactic with subsequent technologies; for example, it pushes its MiniDisc digital recording format (intended to replace cassette tapes) whilst rivals favour CD-R and MP3 instead. Sony also makes heavy use of its Memory Stick flash memory modules for digital cameras and other portable devices, which few other manufacturers use. It also attempted to compete with the Iomega Zip drive and Imation Superdisk with their Sony HiFD, but this proved a severe failure. Since the introduction of the MiniDisc format, Sony has attempted to promote its proprietary audio compression technologies under the ATRAC brand, against more widely-used formats like MP3 and Windows Media Audio. Until late 2004, Sony's various digital portable music players did not support even the de facto standard MP3 natively, although the software provided with them would convert MP3 files into the ATRAC formats. It is worth noting however that occasionally the formats pushed do succeed - Sony co-invented CD-ROM along with Phillips.

Investor information

Sony Corporation is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange under number 6758 and on the NYSE as SNE through American Depositary Receipt|ADR.

See the Sony Corporation shareholders and subsidiaries.

Notable products and technologies

See also: List of Sony Trademarks


  • Reel-to-reel audio tape recording|Reel-to-reel tape recorders (1950-??)
  • Transistor radios (1955-)


  • Trinitron (1968-)


  • U-matic (1971–1983)
  • Betamax (1975–1998)
  • Elcaset (1976–1980)
  • Walkman (1979-)


  • Mavica (1981-??)
  • Betacam (1982-)
  • Compact Disc (1982-)
  • The 3 1/2" diskette (1983-)
  • Discman (1984-)
  • Handycam (1985-)
  • 8 mm video format|Video8 (1985-??)
  • D1 (1987-)
  • DAT (1987-)
  • NEWS Unix workstation (1987-??)
  • D2 (1988-)
  • Hi8 (1989-)
  • Video Walkman (1989-)


  • NT (cassette)(1991-??)
  • MiniDisc (1992-)
  • PlayStation (aka PSone) (1994–2004)
  • Magic Link (1994–1997)
  • DV (1995-)
  • MiniDV (1995-)
  • Cybershot (1996-)
  • Digital8 (1999-)
  • FD Trinitron (1996-)
  • VAIO (1997-)
  • Digital Mavica (1997-)
  • Ruvi (1998–1999)
  • Memory Stick (1998-)
  • Sony HiFD|HiFD (1998–2001)
  • Super Audio CD (1998-)
  • PlayStation 2 (1999-)
  • Aibo (1999-)



Question marks indicate products no longer sold as of 2005, but the year they were withdrawn is unknown

External links