SPONSORS: PLAYSTATION (SONY)

Name: PlayStation (Sony)

Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka met while designing guided missiles for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final years of World War II. The pair established Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering in 1946 and, with money from the Morita Family's sake business, produced the first Japanese tape recorder in 1950. The company launched one of the first transistor radios in 1955 and built smaller and smaller radios, including the "Sony" pocket radio in 1957. Its success led the company to rename itself Sony in 1958. This was followed by televisions and video recorders, leading to the Trinitron colour TV in 1968. The success continued in 1979 with the launch of the Walkman.

Faced by increased competition and falling sales, Sony diversified into the entertainment business and began producing software in addition to hardware. This included investment in the music, film and publishing business, notably the purchase of CBS Records in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989. In 1993 Morita suffered a brain haemorrhage and was forced to resign from the company the following year. He died in October 1999.

Under the new management the slowing down of sales led the company to expand its involvement in consumer electronics and in 1994 the firm launched its PlayStation games machine. The company had previously been involved in video games in alliance with Nintendo but in 1991 Nintendo allied with Sony rival Philips and so Sony decided to go it alone and began developing its own software and acquiring software companies.

In the first month on sale Sony sold 300,000 Play Stations in Japan and a new international brand was launched. The Sony takeover of the Psygnosis company led to the development of a new Formula 1 game and the company formed relationships with a variety of teams and in 1998 became a major sponsor of Prost Grand Prix .

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