Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sony Corporation (Japanese katakana: ソニー) is a global consumer electronics corporation based in Tokyo, Japan. It is currently the world's largest producer of consumer electronics and is one of the biggest corporations in Japan and around the world.
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.
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, the English word "sunny", and from the word Sonny-boys which is Japanese slang for "whizz kids ". However "Sonny" seemed not to be appropriate since it sounds too much like the Japanese soh-nee which means something like "business goes bad", furthermore, Akio Morita pushed for a word that does not exist in any language so that they could claim the word "Sony" as their own (which paid off when they sued a candy producer who also used the name who claimed that "Sony" was just an existing word in some language).
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.
On March 7th, 2005, Sony Corp. announced that Nobuyuki Idei will step down as Chairman and Group CEO and will be replaced by Briton Sir Howard Stringer, current Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation of America, Corporate Executive Officer, Vice Chairman and COO Sony Entertainment Business Group. Sony's decision to replace Idei with Wales native Howard Stringer will mark the first time that a foreigner will run a major Japanese electronics firm. Sony Corp. also announced on the same date that current president, Kunitake Ando, will step down and be replaced by Ryoji Chubachi. 
On July 20th, 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, control 60% of the world wide music market.
On September 13th 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 2002, Sony Computer Entertainment America, marketer of the popular PlayStation game consoles, was sued by Immersion Corp. of San Jose, CA which claimed that Sony's PlayStation "Dual Shock" controllers infringed on Immersions patents. In 2004 a federal jury agreed with Immersion, awarding the company US$82 million in damages. A U.S. district court judge ruled on the matter in March, 2005 and not only agreed with the federal jury's ruling but also added another US$8.7 million in damages. Washington Post: Pay Judgment Or Game Over, Sony Warned
Sony has historically been notable for creating its own in-house standards for new recording and storage technologies instead of adopting those of other manufacturers and standards bodies. 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 created MiniDisc to replace cassette tapes which left it in an awkward position when rivals later adopted CD-R and MP3. Sony also makes heavy use of its Memory Stick flash memory cards 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 HiFD, but this proved a severe failure.
Since the introduction of the MiniDisc format, Sony has attempted to promote its own audio compression technologies under the ATRAC brand, against more widely-used formats like MP3 and Windows Media Audio. Until late 2004, Sony's Network Walkman line of digital portable music players did not support the MP3 de facto standard natively, although the software provided with them would convert MP3 files into the ATRAC or ATRAC3 formats.
Notable products and technologies
See also: List of Sony Trademarks
- Trinitron (1968-)
- Mavica (1981-??)
- Betacam (1982-)
- Compact Disc (1982-)
- The 3½" diskette (1983-)
- Discman (1984-)
- Handycam (1985-)
- Video8 (1985-??)
- D1 (1987-)
- DAT (1987-)
- NEWS (1987-??)
- D2 (1988-)
- Hi8 (1989-)
- Video Walkman (1989-)
- NT (1991-??)
- MiniDisc (1992-)
- PlayStation (later 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-)
- HiFD (1998-2001)
- Super Audio CD (1998-)
- PlayStation 2 (1999-)
- Aibo (1999-)
- CLIÉ (2000-2005)
- MicroMV (2002-)
- HDV (2003-)
- Blu-Ray Disc (2003-)
- PSX (2003-)
- Qrio (2003-)
- PlayStation Portable (2004-)
- PlayStation 3 (estimated 2006-)
Question marks indicate products no longer sold as of 2005, but the year of withdrawal is unknown
- Sony Japan (In Japanese)
- Sony Corporation: Global Headquarters
- Sony America
- Silicon Valley InfoZone - Sony
- Snopes article on the name
- Agoraquest: site for Sony product enthusiasts
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