Former Sony Corporation president and chairman Norio Ohga -- the founder of Sony's video game division, Sony Computer Entertainment -- passed away Saturday of multiple organ failures. He was 81.
As the legend goes, Ohga -- a classically-trained musician studying at the Tokyo University of the Arts -- was offered a job as a consultant at Sony after sending a letter criticizing one of its low quality tape recorders in the early 1950s. He quickly rose through the ranks of the company, transforming it from a Japanese manufacturer of audio and video equipment to the global entertainment powerhouse it is today.
"By redefining Sony as a company encompassing both hardware and software, Ohga-san succeeded where other Japanese companies failed," Sony president Howard Stringer said in a statement. "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."
In addition to presiding over the launch of Sony Computer Entertainment in 1993 -- and subsequently, its PlayStation line of game hardware -- Ohga also orchestrated the company's 1968 partnership with CBS for the formation of Sony's record label, the purchase of Columbia Pictures, and Sony's development of optical media that led to the standardization of the Compact Disc format.
Ohga retired from Sony in 2000 to focus on his first love, music, by conducting orchestras such as the Boston Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera.
A private wake will be held for family and relatives, with a company service taking place at a later date.