Sony Corporation is a multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan and one of the world's largest media conglomerates with revenue of $70.303 billion (as of 2007) based in Minato, Tokyo. Sony is one of the leading manufacturers of electronics, video, communications, video game consoles and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets, which developed the company into one of the world's richest companies.
Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group, which is engaged in business through its five operating segments — electronics, games, entertainment (motion pictures and music), financial services and other. These make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony's principal business operations include Sony Corporation (Sony Electronics in the U.S.), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sony Ericsson and Sony Financial Holdings. As a semiconductor maker, Sony is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders. The company's slogan is Sony. Like no other.
In 1945, after World War II, Masaru Ibuka started a radio repair shop in a bombed-out building in Tokyo. The next year, he was joined by his colleague Akio Morita and they founded a company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K., which translates in English to Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation. The company built Japan's first tape recorder called the Type-G.
In the early 1950s, Ibuka traveled in the United States and heard about Bell Labs' invention of the transistor. He convinced Bell to license the transistor technology to his Japanese company. While most American companies were researching the transistor for its military applications, Ibuka looked to apply it to communications. Although the American companies Regency and Texas Instruments built the first transistor radios, it was Ibuka's company that made them commercially successful for the first time.
In August 1955, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering released the Sony TR-55, Japan's first commercially produced transistor radio. They followed up in December of the same year by releasing the Sony TR-72, a product that won favor both within Japan and in export markets, including Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Germany. Featuring six transistors, push-pull output and greatly improved sound quality, the TR-72 continued to be a popular seller into the early sixties.
In May 1956, the company released the TR-6, which featured an innovative slim design and sound quality capable of rivaling portable tube radios. It was for the TR-6 that Sony first contracted "Atchan", a cartoon character created by Fuyuhiko Okabe, to become its advertising character. Now known as "Sony Boy", the character first appeared in a cartoon ad holding a TR-6 to his ear, but went on to represent the company in ads for a variety of products well into the mid-sixties. The following year, 1957, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering came out with the TR-63 model, then the smallest (112 × 71 × 32 mm) transistor radio in commercial production. It was a worldwide commercial success.
University of Arizona professor Michael Brian Schiffer, Ph.D., says, "Sony was not first, but its transistor radio was the most successful. The TR-63 of 1957 cracked open the U.S. market and launched the new industry of consumer microelectronics." By the mid 1950s, American teens had begun buying portable transistor radios in huge numbers, helping to propel the fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units in 1955 to 5,000,000 units by the end of 1968. However, this huge growth in portable transistor radio sales that saw Sony rise to be the dominant player in the consumer electronics field was not because of the consumers who had bought the earlier generation of tube radio consoles, but was driven by a distinctly new American phenomenon at the time called rock and roll.
In 2000, Sony was ridiculed for a document entitled "NGO Strategy" that was leaked to the press. This document involved the company's surveillance of environmental activists in an attempt to plan how to counter their movements. This document specifically mentioned environmental groups that were trying to pass laws that held electronics-producing companies responsible for the clean up of the toxic chemicals contained in their merchandise. In early July of 2007, Sony ranked 14th on the Greenpeace chart "Guide to Greener Electronics." This chart graded major electronics companies on their environmental work. Sony fell from its earlier 11th place ranking due to Greenpeace's claims that Sony had double standards in their waste policies