January 6, 1998
Tokyo, Japan - It is with great sadness that Sony Corporation announced the loss of Masaru Ibuka, Founder and Chief Advisor, Sony Corporation. Mr. Ibuka passed away on Friday, December 19, 1997, at 03:38 a.m. at his home in Tokyo. The cause of death was heart failure. Mr. Ibuka was 89 years old. He is survived by one son and two daughters.
A private funeral service took place at 12:00 noon on Monday, December 22, at the Shinagawa Christian Church, 4-7-40, Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo. The wake, also for immediate family only, was held on Sunday, December 21, at 6:00 p.m. at the same location. A public funeral took place at January 21, by Sony Corporation.
Mr. Ibuka was born in 1908 in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. Upon graduating from Waseda University's School of Science and Engineering in 1933, he joined Photo-Chemical Laboratory, a company whose main business was the recording and processing of motion picture film. In May 1946, Mr. Ibuka founded Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K. (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) along with Akio Morita. Early research into magnetic powders and tape base material led to the development of magnetic recording tape in 1949. A year later, the company developed and marketed the first tape recorder in Japan.
Several important developments followed, including Japan's first transistor radio in 1955 and the world's first transistor television in 1960, to name a few. In 1958, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo became known as Sony Corporation. In 1967, Mr. Ibuka managed the R&D project team that was responsible for the development of the Trinitron color television system.
Mr. Ibuka is acclaimed as the innovator who led Sony to create new and unique products that broke from the Japanese corporate tradition of merely copying technology and ideas from the west. In doing so he not only succeeded in creating Sony Corporation, but changed the entire face of Japanese industry as well.
Commenting on today's loss, Sony Corporation Chairman Norio Ohga said: The passing away of Masaru Ibuka, our founder and chief advisor, has created a sadness to which nothing can compare. I first met him during my days in college, and I remember it as only yesterday that he was politely explaining concepts to me and eagerly listening with deep interest to what I was saying, even though I was but a mere student at the time.
"Masaru Ibuka was a person of an entirely different dimension. In the middle of the desolation of post-war Japan, he set out a grand aim in the founding prospectus of the company, and then made unending efforts to create a company that could realize this fine goal. Every single employee from Akio Morita on down worked to achieve Masaru Ibuka's dream. I myself also inherited his spirit and have worked to continue it. The greatness of Masaru Ibuka was not only his ability to create profit, but his way of always looking at the company from a cultural point of view. Even when there was very little profit being made by the company, he took a part of the profit to create the Sony Fund for Education to promote science education among elementary and junior high school students, also worked hard in the area of infant education. He saw his ideas come to fruition one after one, clearly standing apart from the great number of people who have ideas but never realize them. Although we know this is possible in life, it is only the rare man who can achieve this greatness.
"To us, the passing of Masaru Ibuka means that we have lost that which supports our spirits and hearts But we will continue our efforts to ensure that the philosophy that Masaru Ibuka left with us always remains alive at the core of Sony."
Sony Corporation President Nobuyuki Idei added: I learned with great sadness and grief that Sony's founder and chief advisor Masaru Ibuka has passed away. When I first assumed the presidency of Sony, Mr. Ibuka asked me, 'what would you like to have as a present to celebrate your new assignment?' Later, I received a fountain pen from him as a gift, and it has become a lifetime treasure for me. I have learned many things from him and today, I feel a great loss.
"Mr. Ibuka has been at the heart of Sony's philosophy. He has sowed the seeds of deep conviction that our products must bring joy and fun to users. Mr. Ibuka always asked himself what was at the core of 'making things,' and thought in broad terms of how these products could enhance people's lives and cultures.
"Sony would not have had its management resources that it has today were it not for Mr. Ibuka's philosophy and the hard work of management and colleagues who carried out his principles throughout the years.
"In this ever changing world, I feel that it is our duty to make sure that the principles set by Mr. Ibuka continue to be at the core of Sony's philosophy, and that we pass on his legacy to our future generations. I would like to express my appreciation to Mr. Ibuka for his leadership and in making this company into a corporation of global excellence as it is today."
Founder and Chief Advisor
Lifetime Trustee, Keizai Doyukai (Japan Committee for Economic Development) [current]
Honorary Chairman, Board of Directors, Early Development Association [current]
Foreign Member, IVA (Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences)
Life Fellow, IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Counsellor, Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation (President, 1972 - 1991)
Foreign Associate, The National Academy of Engineering
President, Japan Audio Society (1979 - 1992)
Chairman, Boy scouts of Nippon (1985 - 1994)
Chairman, The Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) (1987 - 1992)