Norio Ohga, the former head of Sony who pushed the company to be the first to develop CD technology, has died at the age of 81.
Ohga joined Sony in 1959 after a spell as a music student at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. He came to the company's attention after writing a letter of complaint about the poor quality of its tape recorders, and was signed on as an advisor while still a student.
He ran many facets of the company's business, including business management, marketing and design, but it is the creation of the CD format for which he is most remembered in technology circles.
Sony pioneered CD technology, showing off its first prototype in 1976, and working for another six years with manufacturer Philips until its formal release in 1982.
Ohaga is credited with deciding on the 12cm diameter of the storage format, since this would allow 75 minutes of music playback of reasonable quality and would therefore allow Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to be played on a single CD.
The 12cm size has remained the industry standard for future formates, such as DVD and Blu-ray discs.
The first commercial CD album was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, and Dire Straits' Money for Nothing was the first album to break a million sales on the format in 1985. Within five years of launch the CD outsold LP records globally, and is still the world's most popular music format.
"When I first joined Sony in 1997, Ohga-san (the Japanese honorific) was serving on the frontlines of Sony management as chairman and chief executive," said Sir Howard Stringer, chairman of Sony Corporation, in a statement.
"His numerous and successful endeavours were well known inside and outside Sony. Witnessing Ohga-san's leadership first hand was truly an honour, and one I continued to enjoy and benefit from in countless ways in the years that followed."
Ohga went on to start Sony's computer games division and Sony Music before retiring from the top job in 2000. He remained a consultant with the company until his death.
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