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Obituary: Norio Ohga, 81,Former Sony Chairman

Tokyo – Norio Ohga, the former Sony
president and chairman who led the development of the compact disc (CD) format
at Sony, passed away over the weekend at age 81.

 Ohga, who retained the title of senior
adviser, personally drove Sony’s CD initiatives and, as a trained musician,
pushed for a 12-centimeter CD format to deliver a 75-minute capacity to store all
of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the company said.

Sony commercialized the world’s
first CD in 1982, and Ohga’s efforts to establish the CD format contributed to
the launch of such optical disc formats as the MiniDisc, CD-ROM and the DVD,
the company said.

Ohga also redefined Sony as a
software and hardware company, driven by a philosophy that “hardware and
software are two wheels on a car,” Sony said. Ohga led Sony’s negotiations with
CBS Corp. to purchase CBS/Sony Records, now Sony Music Entertainment, in 1968.
He then pushed for the 1989 purchase of Columbia Pictures, putting Sony in the
movie business.

 “It is no exaggeration to attribute Sony’s
evolution beyond audio and video products into music, movies and game, and
subsequent transformation into a global entertainment leader to Ohga-san’s
foresight and vision,” said Sir Howard Stringer, Sony Corp. chairman, CEO and

Ohga was recruited to Sony by founders
Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. Ohga was a student at the Faculty of Music of the
Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music when he met Ibuka and Morita.
The founder sensed in Ohga “the makings of a leader, and someone whose expert
knowledge of sound and electrical engineering would benefit the company
greatly,” Sony said. In 1953, while still a student, Ohga was appointed a
consultant and advisor to Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp. (now Sony
Corp.) before fully joining the company in 1959.