11 Fun, Interesting Facts about Sony

Would A Walkman By Any Other Name Sound As Good?

Here are just 11 facts about Sony. We hope you find them interesting – or at the very least amusing. Ready? Let’s start.

  1. It started off small.
    When Masaru Ibuka started the company as an electronics shop in a department store building in Tokyo (Akio Morita joined him a year later), it had $530 in capital and a total of eight employees. Today, Sony has an estimated market cap of over $35 billion (according to Forbes) and over 125,000 employees.
  2. It wasn’t originally called Sony.
    When it was founded in 1946 it had the appealing name of Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyujo or, for short, TTK. That means Tokyo Telecommunications Laboratory. It wasn’t called Sony until 1958.
  3. Sony means sound.
    Well, based on the Latin word for sound anyway – sonus, and ‘Sonny’ (which in the States means a boy). It was the name of the company’s first transistor radios and when those became popular, founders Morita and Ibuka adopted Sony as the official name for the company.
  4. It started off with rice cockers.
    The first electronic product Sony produced was a rice cooker, and not even a good one. It only succeeded in overcooking or undercooking the rice and ended as a commercial flop.
  5. The PlayStation was born from a dispute.
    Once upon a time Nintendo asked Sony to develop an add-on that could play discs for its video games consoles. After the partnership collapsed, Sony simply decided to make its own console and we all know what happened – the PlayStation.
  6. The PlayStation was an overnight success.
    It originally went for the price of 37,000 yen and the company was cautious, distributing only 100,000 units to 4000 Japanese stores. They were instantly sold-out and additional 200,000 were sold by the end of the month.
  7. The PlayStation was a record-breaking console.
    50 million units were sold by 1998, and that number was doubled within ten years of the PlayStation‘s Japanese launch. It was the first games console in history to sell over 100 million units. That’s our last PlayStation fact, promise.
  8. There was a man called PlayStation 2.
    Yea, we said it was the last one, but this is just too good to miss. Back in 2002, a guy with the ordinary name Dan Holmes actually changed his name, legally, to PlayStation 2.
  9. Sony had a camcorder that could see through clothes.
    In 1998 it released a camcorder with night vision mode that could, well, expose anyone wearing dark clothes. 700,000 of these devices were sold before the recall.
  10. The Walkman had many other names.
    It was called ‘Soundabout’ in the United States (although Sony America first suggested ‘Sony Disco Jogger’), ‘Freestyle’ in Australia and ‘Stowaway’ in the UK. Sales companies made loud objected to the decision to change the name to ‘Walkman’, claiming it was too Japanese-English.
  11. Sony has ‘Banishment Rooms’.
    Also known as chasing-out-rooms or boredom rooms, this refers to a common practice in Japan where employees (who are heavily protected under Japan’s labor laws) are transferred to a different department where they do nothing or are assigned meaningless tasks meant to cause them to resign. Sony calls these rooms ‘Career Design Rooms’.

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