Akio Morita was a Japanese businessman who co-founded Sony Corporation. He was born in Nagoya, Japan on January 26, 1921.
Akio was the eldest son of a wealthy soy sauce and sake producer. As a child, he became fascinated with electronics and began to tinker with products such as the phonograph. He earned a degree in physics from the Osaka Imperial University. After graduation, he served in the Japanese military during World War II.
In 1946, Akio joined Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, a new company established by Masaru Ibuka. The two endeavored to make things that are not only ‘first in japan’ but also in the world through the establishment of an ideal factory that stresses open mindedness. The following year, it manufactured Japan’s first power megaphone. Subsequently, it produced the first magnetic tape recorder, the first direct-view portable transistor TV, the first transistor video tape recorder and of course, the celebrated Walkman. Later, it became a powerhouse producer of video camcorders, video games consoles and also in medical equipment.
In 1958, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation changed its name to Sony Corporation. In the 1980s, with sales and profits soaring, the company made spectacular take-over of Hollywood icons, Columbia Pictures and CBS Records.
As the chief marketing man of the company, Akio inadvertently became also the familiar face of technologically-advanced “Made in Japan” products. It helped that he had an outgoing and outspoken personality. He tirelessly and flamboyantly travelled around the world giving media interviews, a rarity in tradition-bound Japan.
Akio died of pneumonia in 1999 at the age of 78 leaving three children with his wife Yoshiko. He was hailed as the only non-American among the ’20 most influential business geniuses’ of the 20th century. In 1986, he published the best-selling book “Made In Japan”. Later, he authored two more books: “Japan That Can Say No” and “Asia in a Changing World”.
In 2019, Sony ranked #116 in Fortune Global 500 with revenues of $78 billion and 114,000 employees.