August 7: the first Sony radios are born

August 7: the first Sony radios are born

August 7

Today, August 7, 1955, is a very important date for the history of radio and, more generally, for one of the most important technology companies of all time: that day, in fact, a Sony portable radio was distributed for the first time in Japan. , from what was initially known as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo KK

This will have a decidedly important impact on the market, as it will be able to establish itself, especially with the next model, in the American territory with what will be defined as the first real pocket and portable radio in the world, then dictating a sort of standards for the future and for competitors who will try to keep up over the years.

The birth of Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo

The postwar period has left many injuries, both physical and economic in Japan in the late 1940s. There was a very important desire for redemption, especially towards the United States, which led many inhabitants of the Rising Sun to start projects and invest in new technologies and inventions. So it was that in 1946, the Japanese engineer Masaru Ibuka decided to open an electronics store in Tokyo, with eight employees and an initial budget of 190000 yen (the equivalent of about 1500 € at the current exchange rate), to prove himself and all Japan that could be started again.

A few years later, he began the partnership with the physicist Akio Morita, with whom he decided to transform the simple shop into a real company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (literally translated "Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation"), increasing the number of employees and, certainly, the ambitions.

The advent of the Transistor and the birth of the first TR-55

The so-called transistor is nothing more than a miniaturized device, capable of conducting electricity and widely used in electronics digital and analog. The Morita-Tsushin duo, while designing rice kettles and tape recorders, had a revolutionary idea in mind: to use this technology to create portable radios, so that anyone could use them where and how they wanted.

So it was that on 7 August 1955, after countless tests and experiments, the company put its first portable radio model on the Japanese market: the TR-55, with a very small size of 14 cm x 8.9 cm x 3.85 cm. A curious fact about this device is that, despite the company's name being Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, it was branded with the Sony logo.

The name change

To make its products attractive, the Japanese company decided to use the acronym TKK, to be more immediate and more appealing. However, that abbreviation was already used for the Tokyo Kyuko railway company and would therefore have created confusion.

Morita, therefore, began to think of a name that did not exist anywhere, of a word that never was was pronounced in any language: thus the name Sony was born, from the union of the Latin word Sonus (which means "sound"), from the English Sunny (which means "sunny / sunny") and from the expression of the Japanese slang Sonny Boys ( used to indicate those young people with rosy careers).

Although the new name had already been used and imprinted on the TR-55, the company officially adopted it only several years later, in 1958, after rejecting alternatives such as " Sony Electric Industries ”and“ Sony Teletech ”. All this to prevent the company name from being linked to a particular industry. Taking a leap forward, it was definitely far-sighted, considering the sheer breadth and variety of products Sony has on the market today.

Redemption to the United States

After the incredible success of the TR-55 in the homeland (just think that only 10,000 units were produced), it was time to expand the horizons of the company and to propose Sony's portable radio also to the US market.

Nell In the fall of 1955, Morita met a representative of Bulova, a New York-based watch company, which would produce and distribute 10,000 units on the US market, as long as its logo was engraved on it. An offer that few would have refused, but the founder of the Japanese company politely refused, because the name of the company had to be visible, everyone had to know that it was Sony that had produced the first transistor radio, especially to establish itself outside Japan. br>

Fortunately, some time later Morita managed to sign an agreement with a New York importer, Adolph Gross, to distribute an improved and more compact model suitable for the US market. Thus in 1957 the TR-63 was born, the first transistor radio produced by Sony to be sold on the American market, even smaller than the previous one, as it measures 11.2 cm x 7.1 cm x 3.2 cm and can be used with a headset.

A curious peculiarity of this new model was that it was not small enough to fit in the pockets of the shirts then on the market in the United States; so the company decided to distribute models with much larger pockets to all sellers, so that they could prove that the product was, in all respects, the first pocket transistor radio in the world.

The cultural and technological impact

Unlike the previous tube radios, which are certainly more expensive and definitely more uncomfortable although portable, Sony's transistor radios cut production and, above all, purchase costs , allowing even the less well-off to be able to listen to music and radio programs in complete tranquility, on any occasion and using only 4 standard batteries.

In addition, the different varieties of colors (yellow, green , red and black), made each model attractive and suited to the tastes of each individual, so much so that it came to sell, as regards the TR-63 model, more than 100,000 copies. More importantly, it also paved the way for direct competitors, making transistor portable radios the dominant electronic technology of the late 1950s

Between 1950 and 2012, it is estimated that several tens of billions of transistor radios have been sold in the world and, it can be safely said, that if it had not been for the small TR-55 and the intuition of Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita, we would probably have witnessed a very, very different evolution of portable radio entertainment.

We could even get out of balance, thinking that many current inventions, such as the MP3 player, could not have existed without the advent of first Sony portable radios.

If you like vintage accessories, you can buy this beautiful blue-tooth speaker in the shape of an old radio by simply clicking on this link.

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