Tokyo: Former Sony president Norio Ohga, who helped transform the music industry with the development of the compact disc format, has died at the age of 81, the company said.
The music school graduate served as president from 1982 to 1995 and led the electronics manufacturer to become an entertainment empire with a portfolio encompassing music, movies and computer games.
He died on Saturday of multiple organ failure, Sony said.
"By redefining Sony as a company encompassing both hardware and software, Ohga-san succeeded where other Japanese companies failed," said Sir Howard Stringer, current Sony chairman, chief executive and president.
"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."
Along with development of the CD format, Ohga led Sony`s negotiations in 1968 with CBS Corp, which resulted in creation of CBS/Sony Records, now Sony Music Entertainment.
His decision to purchase Columbia Pictures in 1989 cemented Sony`s position as an entertainment conglomerate.
He also designed the Sony corporate logo and promoted PlayStation game console.
Ohga`s career with Sony began in 1953, when the company`s co-founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita made him a consultant while he was still studying music at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
Under Ohga`s leadership, Sony revolutionised the music industry with the CD format in 1982, co-developed by Royal Philips Electronics.
During the development, Ohga, a passionate baritone singer, pushed for the 12-centimetre format with 75 minutes of recording capacity to fit Beethoven`s Ninth Symphony without interruption.
Mindful of the importance of the brand image, he designed the Sony logo, and had always stressed that the "four letter word" was the company`s biggest asset.
Sony said it will conduct a corporate memorial, after a private ceremony.
First Published: Sunday, April 24, 2011, 09:54