1-7-1 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075, Japan
Founded May 7, 1946
Superscope Technologies, 1508 Batavia Avenue, Geneva, IL 60134, founded 1954
Akio Morita (right) - Sony founder , Born January 26, 1921, Nagoya, Aichi – Died October 3, 1999, Tokyo
Sony found its beginning 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. ] 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
Sony remains one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, with over 158,000 employees worldwide and revenues in excess of US $63 billion.
Masaru Ibuka (left), the co-founder of Sony
Sony was founded May 7, 1946 as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, Ltd. with capital of only $500 US. The name "Sony" was chosen for the brand as a mix of two words. One was the Latin word "Sonus", which is the root of sonic and sound, and the other was "Sonny", a familiar term used in 1950s America to call a boy. 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.
Initial developments included an electric rice heater and an electric heating pad.
The Sony founders obtained a military wire recorder, as well as a Webster Chicago wire recorder from the US and began experimenting with recording.
However when they were able to see a demonstration of a WilcoxGay tape recorder used by the occupying forces, it was decided this was their future.
Sony tape and tape recorder products
In 1949 they concentrated on making tape and were successful after several experiments. Once they reviewed how a tape recorder worked at NHK, they created a prototype recorder in just one week
First Sony Tape Prototype called Soni-Tape - 1949. First Sony Tape Recorder Prototype1950
In 1950, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (the predecessor to Sony) launched Japan's first tape recorder, the "G type." Called "G" type because it was sold mostly to the government
Spring wound "M" Type for professional broadcast work - 1950
In marketing the G-type tape recorder, Totsuko registered it under the trademark name of " Tapecorder" (Later Sony used "Sterecorder")
This machine featured a tape speed of 19cm (7.5 inches) per second & 10 inch reels
TC-301. It was the first small tape recorder designed for the consumer market and was sold for 49,000 yen - $600 (the G type tape recorder launched 4 years before was sold at 160,000 yen -$2,600). It was this less-than 50,000 yen model that started the mass production of what until then were expensive products. Sony Corp.
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.
In 1957 the company's name was changed to Sony. One of the first Sony reel to reel recorders available in the US was the 553 shown here (right) and is also in the Reel2ReelTexas.com vintage recording collection collection.
First US Sony Tape recorder ad we found was in the 1957 HighFidelity magazine for the Sony 555 (right)
Sony co-founder Akio Morita founded Sony Corporation of America in 1960.
In 1961, the Sony Corporation of America became the first Japanese company to ever be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
One of the most sought after Sony microphones is the Sony C37 shown at right.
Sony's prototype ES-22-T professional reel tape recorder (left)
In 1971, Masaru Ibuka handed the position of president over to his co-founder Akio Morita.
Sony launched the Betamax videocassette recording format in 1975
Elcaset was a short-lived audio format created by Sony in 1976, building on an idea introduced 20 years earlier in the RCA tape cartridge.
In 1976, it was widely felt that the compact cassette was never likely to be capable of the same levels of performance that was available from reel-to-reel systems, yet clearly the cassette had advantages in terms of convenience. The Elcaset system was intended to marry the performance of reel to reel with cassette convenience. The name "Elcaset" may simply mean L-cassette, or large cassette, since the 1/4" tape inside was double the 1/8" width found in standard cassettes. They were divided into six tracks.
The cassette itself looked very similar to a standard cassette, only larger—about twice the size. Like the earlier RCA tape cartridge it contained 6 mm (0.25 in) tape running at 9.5 cm/s (3.75 in/s), twice the width and twice the speed of a standard cassette, providing greater frequency response and dynamic range with lower high-frequency noise than the compact cassette. Another notable difference from compact cassettes was that the tape was withdrawn from the cassette when run through the transport mechanism so that the manufacturing tolerances of the cassette shell did not affect sound quality. The Elcaset also had all the features of deluxe open reel decks, such as separate heads for erase, recording, and playback, remote control, and heavy duty transports for low wow & flutter.
The system was technically sound, but a complete failure in the marketplace, with a very low take up by a few audiophiles only. Apart from the problem of the bulky cassettes, the performance of standard cassettes had improved dramatically with the use of new materials such as chromium dioxide, Dolby B noise reduction, and better manufacturing quality. For most people, the quality of standard cassettes was adequate, and the benefits of the expensive Elcaset system limited. Audiophiles turned away from Elcaset and towards high-end cassette decks from companies like Nakamichi, which began making very high-quality tape decks using the regular audio cassette in late 1973. The tapes they made could be played on any standard cassette machine. Also, the machines were expensive. Elcaset began a fast fade-out in 1978.
The system was abandoned in 1980, when all the remaining systems were sold off in Finland.
1977/78 The last Sony reel to reel tape recorder
The last consumer Sony reel to reel tape recorder produced was the Sony TC-765. The TC-765 shown to the right is in the Museum of Magnetic Sound recording.
Sony produced the world's first portable music player, the Walkman in 1979.
Sony tape recorder products in our collection
Music Center Incorporated (MCI) is the former name of a United States manufacturer of professional audio equipmentthat operated from 1955 until 1982 when it was acquired by the Sony Corporation. The company is credited with a number of world firsts: commercializing the 24-track multi-track recorder, the tape Auto Locator and in-line mixing console.
1988 Sony's professional APR-5003 in our Reel2ReelTexas.com vintage recording collection MCI/Sony
Go to Sony Part 2