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 president.
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.