From WE Computers Museum
Sony logo.png
Type Public
Founded May 7, 1946 (Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo)
January 1958 (Sony)
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Key people Masaru Ibuka, founder
Akio Morita, founder
Industry Electronics
Products PlayStation video game consoles
Number of people 109,700

Sony (ソニー) is an electronics company that was founded as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (東京通信工業, Tokyo Communications Industry) on May 7, 1946 in Tokyo by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita.

The company was nicknamed "Totsuko" in Japan, but a new name was sought after Akio Morita visited the United States and discovered that most Americans had trouble pronouncing the name. They decided to use Sony, as a portmanteau of the Latin word "sonus", for sound, and "sonny", which was a loan word from English. In Japan, "sonny boys" were smart and presentable young men. The founders of Sony considered this to fit their image, and the name stuck. The first product to be marketed under the Sony brand, a transistor radio, was released in 1955, and the company officially changed its name to Sony in January 1958.

Sony enters the computer market

The MSX, a standardized home computer architecture, was announced by Microsoft on June 16, 1983. The MSX architecture was used by many Japanese electronics companies to manufacture and market computers, including Sony. MSX became the most popular computer architecture of its time in Japan. Although the MSX never caught on in North America, it was popular in some markets outside of Asia. This included Russia, where a Sony MSX2 machine was launched into space onboard the Mir, the first modular space station, which operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001.

Compact disc specifications

Sony and Philips authored most of the compact disc specifications, including Compact Disc Digital Audio (CDDA), Compact Disc Read-Only Memory (CD-ROM), and Compact Disc Recordable (CD-R).

Creation of the PlayStation

In 1991, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Sony announced the Super NES CD-ROM. It was meant to be released in two formats. The first was a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The second was a unit that combined the SNES and CD-ROM in one unit that Sony dubbed the PlayStation. The unit was going to be compatible with regular SNES format games as well as a Sony-developed Super Disc format. Because of the latter, Sony would have a large deal of control over the system. As a result, Nintendo tried to negotiate a better deal with Philips. This ultimately led to both deals falling through, and the add-on was never released.

Philips would go on to release its own console, the CD-i, in 1991. Sony would, likewise, release the PlayStation as a stand-alone console in 1994. The PlayStation became one of the best-selling consoles of all time, selling 102.49 million units worldwide. It outsold the systems of its closest competitors combined, as the Nintendo 64 sold 32.93 million units and the Sega Saturn sold 9.26 million units.

Computers by Sony

Title Release Added to museum Notes
Sony HB series 1985-1988 Not yet MSX computers

Video game consoles by Sony

Title Release Added to museum Notes
PlayStation 1994 Not yet
PlayStation 2 2000 January 4, 2001
PlayStation Portble 2004 Not yet
PlayStation 3 2006 February 10, 2010
PlayStation Vita 2011 Not yet
PlayStation 4 2013 February 6, 2017
PlayStation 5 2020 Not yet
PlayStation TV 2013 September 13, 2022 Home console version of PS Vita