On January 23, 1963, Sony acquired land and a building located in front of Osaki train station from a company called Sonoike Seisakujo. This was to become Sony's Osaki plant and the center of transistorized television production. The new plant was a convenient 2-minute walk from the train station and a 10-minute walk from the main plant in Shinagawa. The site encompassed 13,800 square meters. Of this, the 4-story building with a basement took up 12,000 square meters. The plant, which was still under construction, was turned over to Sony in May of 1964. As the plant was to start full transistor TV production by that autumn, remodeling work on the building was undertaken immediately. Building costs were to be covered by the capital acquired from Sony's second ADR issue, which had taken place that April.
The second ADR issue was a great success, as the 3 million shares were all sold within an hour. This capital was needed to push along the development of the VTR and color television and the mass production of the micro-TV. To be truthful, at this point in time, Sony needed all the money it could get. The color TV, in particular, required a big investment.
Sony, having a late start in color TVs in 1961, first pinned its hopes on the chromatron tube, which produced a display six times brighter than the conventional shadow-mask. Until that time, however, it had been limited to specialized military use. Despite the technical difficulties involved in producing the chromatron tube, Ibuka and Morita decided to adopt it.
The economics of production were stiff -- a single cathode-ray tube envelope cost $200. In the days of 360 yen to the dollar, this was equivalent to 72,000 yen. Ibuka, however, believed that costs would decrease with mass production. Iwama oversaw all work related to cathode-ray tubes. Susumu Yoshida led the production team of Koichi Momoi, Senri Miyaoka, and Akio Ohgoshi. Satoshi Shimada led work on circuits.
The crux of Lawrence's chromatron theory is that an electron beam from an electron gun could pass through the color switching grid of woven wires (the predecessor of the aperture grille) and be irradiated against the red, green and blue fluorescent material on the screen. According to conventional optic theory, when the beam directly strikes the grid, the shadow of the grid is reflected on the fluorescent screen, resulting in a darker picture display. Since the electron beam passes through the grille, it is possible to utilize over 80% of the electron beam -- resulting in a brighter screen.
Theoretically, Lawrence's concept was superb. When the Sony crew began to develop it for operational use, however, they ran into various practical problems not addressed in Lawrence's theory. Even if it was constructed to specification, the man-hour costs alone put it far beyond production feasibility.
Although there were still problems, the 19-inch Chromatron color TV, employing the single-gun, high fidelity dot sequence method was tentatively completed in September of 1964. The Chromatron color TV was shown to the press and was the focus of much attention. This commercial product was Sony's fifth after the tape recorder, transistor radio, transistor television and VTR. Production was assigned to the Osaki plant.
After having announced this new television, Sony's reputation depended on fixing the bugs that still plagued the set. Now more than ever, the research team faced a long uphill battle.