Sony is one of the most popular electronics brands in the entire world. However, you’d be surprised at how little you actually know about this company—such as these 5 things:
- The origins of the “Sony” name
Yes, Sony is a homegrown Japanese company. Yet why does it have a Western-sounding name? Well, the Americans are partly to blame.
The company was originally named Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, Japanese for Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation. But when they wanted to expand overseas, there was a need for a name that was easier to pronounce for Americans. They considered several options, from TTK (rejected since it was already used by a Japanese railway company) to Tokyo Teletech (used by an American company).
They eventually settled on Sony, which was based on two things. First, it came from the Lain word “sonus,” the root word of sound. Yet it is also connected to the Japanese slang phrase “sonny boys”—a term borrowed from English—which referred to smart, presentable young men.
- The Playstation was originally supposed to be a collaboration between Nintendo and Sony
It was originally supposed to be a version of the Super Famicom, doing away with the cartridges and using a CD drive instead. Its release was even announced at the June 1991 Consumer Electronics Show. Yet a day after the announcement, Nintendo broke off and inked a deal with Philips instead due to disagreements in profit-sharing.
With a huge chunk of the technology still with the company—and then Sony President Norio Ohga furious at the deal being cancelled—they developed the Playstation into an entirely different console, with Ken Kutaragi at the helm. The gamble paid off, with the original Playstation being the first video game console to ship 100 million units since its release.
- Sony actually operates a life insurance/finance arm
Yes, Sony is not just all about consumer electronics. They actually operate the Sony Financial Group, a holdings company that manages Sony Bank, Sony Life (insurance), Sony Assurance (non-life insurance), and Sony LifeCare (nursing care business). Sony Life even had operations in the Philippines, until it was bought by Paramount Insurance in 2012.
- They invented the first 3.5” floppy disks and Blu-Ray.
Even before innovation was a buzzword, Sony was already at the forefront, creating new standards for the tech industry. One such story was the 3.5” floppy disk.
Long before the advent of memory cards and USB flash drives, floppy disks were the main storage device for the average consumer. Unfortunately, they came in different shapes and sizes, among them the 4” and the 5” ones. Good thing Sony came around and released the 3.5” floppy disk, which eventually became the standard floppy disk size across all computers.
But that’s not the only thing that Sony pioneered. The Japanese company also helped developed a handful of other formats, such as Betamax, Video8, and Blu-Ray. They also partnered with Philips to develop the DVD format.
- Sony was also the manufacturer of the first electronic still camera, the Mavica.
Sony did not just innovate in file formats, as it was also at the forefront of technology in photography. Proof of this is the Mavica, released in 1981 and considered the forerunner of the modern digital camera. Granted, it worked differently from today’s digital cameras—photographs were created using an analog video signal and saved in NTSC format on 2” floppy disks, like video. Due to its SLR-type design, it was used extensively during the coverage of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Games.
Though Sony has already discontinued this line, it is still one of the top camera brands in the world, as manufacturer of the Cyber-shot and Alpha series.