Norio Ohga, Former Sony President and Father of the CD, Dies at 81

Paul Lilly

Norio Ohga, the former president and chairman of Sony Corporation who spearheaded development of the compact disc, died on Saturday in Tokyo at the age of 81. The cause of death was multiple organ failure, Sony said in a statement. Up until his death, Ohga remained tied to Sony, serving as a Senior Advisor and continuing to add to his legacy that spans over 50 years with the company.

Mr. Ohga was still a student at the Faculty of Music of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1953 when he first met Sony founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. Recognizing his gift for sound and electrical engineering, Mr. Ohga was appointed a consultant and advisor to Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (now Sony Corporation) before taking a full time gig with the company in 1959.

But Mr. Ohga's biggest contribution is that of the CD. During development of the CD, Mr. Ohga pushed for a 12cm format that would provide enough recording capacity at 75 minutes to allow music buffs to enjoy all of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony without interruption, according to Sony. Those specifications remain today, nearly 30 years after Sony commercialized the world's first CD in 1982.

"When I first joined Sony in 1997, Ohga-san was serving on the front lines of Sony management as Chairman and CEO," said Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman, CEO, and President of Sony Corporation. "His numerous and successful endeavors were well known both inside and outside of Sony. Witnessing Ohga-san's leadership first-hand was truly and honor, and one I continued to enjoy and benefit from in countless ways in the years that followed.

"By redefining Sony as a company encompassing both hardware and software, Ohga-san succeeded where other Japanese companies failed. 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.

I offer my deepest condolences on his passing and pray tha he may rest in peace."

Mr. Ohga was born on January 29, 1930 in Numazu City, Sizuoka Prefecture, Japan.

Image Credit: flickr (ssoosay)

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