- What is a Sony Walkman? Have you ever owned one?
- Besides the Walkman and the video cassette recorder, what other products has Sony produced?
- What Sony products do you own?
- Why do you think the founders of the company chose the name "Sony"?
- Are you interested in electronic products? If so, what kind of products are you most interested in? Have you even been in a Sony store?
- brew: prepare; make a drink such as beer, tea, coffee, etc.
- marketing: selling
- financing: raising and using money
- strategy: plan
- encourage: help, support
- innovation: making new things
- stroke: sudden attack of illness in the brain
- resign: stop working, give up on one's job
Practice these new vocabulary words here: Akio Morita
- Akio Morita was the co-founder of the Sony corporation.
- Morita was born in Nagoya, Japan, on January 26, 1921. His family had brewed sake for many generations and he was expected to join the family business.
- Instead, Morita became a physicist. On May 7, 1946, he and Masaru Ibuka founded Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation. Ibuka was in charge of research and developing products. Morita took care of marketing, financing, employee relations, and expanding their company internationally.
- In 1958, the changed the company's name to Sony. They wanted a name that was easy for people in other countries to say and to remember. It was the first step in their strategy for expanding their business into a global corporation.
- In 1960, Morita moved to the United States to lead Sony Corporation of America. In 1961, Sony became the first Japanese company to offer shares on the New York Stock Exchange. This encouraged other Japanese companies to raise money from foreign sources instead of borrowing money from Japanese banks.
- Over the years, Morita's creativity and innovation resulted in the development of products such as the Walkman and the video cassette recorder.
- Morita also expanded Sony's operations. In 1968, Sony became involved in music software. In 1979, the Sony Prudential Life Insurance company was founded. In 1988, Sony bought CBS Records and, a year later, Columbia Pictures.
- Morita also worked to introduce Japanese culture and to ease Japan's trade relations with other nations. He was very good at this, and his cheerful personality made him popular with business and political leaders around the world. Many countries, including Japan, gave him their highest awards for his work.
- Morita's energy and drive carried over to his personal life. He began to ski, play tennis, and scuba dive later in life.
- In 1993, Morita suffered a stroke while playing tennis. He resigned as chairman of Sony, but remained as Honorary Chairman until his death on October 3, 1999.
True or False. Read the statements below.
- Akio Morita joined his families brewing business.
- In Tokyo Telecommunications, Morita looked after research and development.
- Morita was a very creative person.
- Sony is involved in many businesses besides electronics.
- Morita helped bring Japanese culture to America.
Post Reading Questions
- What was the name of the company Akio Morita founded with Masaru Ibuka?
- What were Morita's responsibilities in this company?
- Why did Morita and Ibuka decide to change the name of their company?
- In 1961, Sony offered shares of its company on the New York Stock Exchange. How did this action help other Japanese companies?
- Give four adjectives to describe Morita's personality.
- Why was Morita popular with business leaders around the world?
- Besides electronics, what other businesses is Sony involved in?
- Why do you think Akio Morita was able to build such a successful business?
- Why do you think Japanese companies have been so successful in the electronics industry?
- Do you buy many foreign made products?
- Do you prefer to buy products made in your own country?
- Japan is famous for its electronics. What other products is Japan famous for?