Former Sony Chairman and "Father of Compact Disc" Dies

By Tracey E. Schelmetic April 25, 2011

Norio Ohga, former president and chairman of Sony who was widely credited with spearheading Sony's development of the compact disc, has died at age 81 of multiple organ failure, reported Reuters.

Ohga gave up a career as an opera singer to join Sony, then a fledgling consumer electronics maker, in the 1950s. As the company's president from 1982 to 1995, he led its expansion into movies and video games, played a central role in Sony's acquisition of record label CBS Records and oversaw the $3.4 billion purchase of Columbia Pictures in 1989.

Ohga remained a senior adviser to the company at the time of his death.

The acquisition of Columbia Pictures, now known as Sony Pictures, remained controversial and speculation periodically surfaced of a possible sell-off as analysts questioned whether Sony would ever achieve returns to justify the cost, reported Reuters.

Ohga, a graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and the Berlin University of the Arts, served as president of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a vice chairman of an influential business lobby, the Japan Federation of Economic Organisations.

Ohga stepped down as president in 1995, succeeded by Nobuyuki Idei, and continued to serve as chairman and representative director until 2000.

Sony's competitiveness has waned considerably in recent years. It lost the lead in video games to Nintendo and has been outmaneuvered by Apple in portable music and by South Korea's Samsung Electronics in flat-screen TVs.

“It is no exaggeration to attribute Sony's evolution beyond audio and video products into music, movies and games, and subsequent transformation into a global entertainment leader to Ohga-san's foresight and vision,” said Sony's Howard Stinger, who took the company's helm in 2005, in a statement.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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