Visit “Sony Archives” at its Cradle Place Shinagawa
Explore the Sony’s roots and techno sprit
♣ Visit Sony Archive in Shinagawa
Sony is well known as an electronic pioneering company representing the postwar Japanese industry which based on the innovative technology. The Sony Archives, located in Shinagawa, Tokyo, is the museum showing the Sony’s significant footprints.
I have visited this Archives with my friend in this summer. The facility was not so big, but it exhibited number of Sony’s memorial products (over 250 specs) in the hall. It seems they showed the challenging history and technology of Sony. It also indicated the landmark and vestiges of the electrical and electronic industry in the post-war Japan as a whole. I felt this Archives was a valuable facility to be able to examine the Japanese electric industrial development and technology. The following is a small note describing the impression during this visit.
(Note: The pictures in the articles were used in the Sony’s web and brochures, because photograph was not allowed in the archive)
♣ Main Exhibitions of Sony Archives
The Sony Archives is visibly demonstrating the Sony’s technology and its manufacturing spirit by showing the products historically developed. The exhibition is categorized into several main corners, such as a video corner of founder’s massage the “Genryu” （源流：Initial Movement) which explains the origin of Sony, “Hatten-tsushi” （発展通史：Products Timeline), and “Hasso-Ko” （発想庫：Idea Box) of technology development, and the additional Library block.
All of exhibit shows well the Sony’s footprints since it established as a small company just after the War in which industrial base was totally lost, but it was success to grow to the world class electric company. Visitor can observe the memorial Soy’s products by their own eyes.
♣ Sony’s Founder’s Philosophy seen in the “Genryu” corner
Sony was born in 1946 just after the war, and it was a called at the time “Tokyo-tsushin-kogyo” with only employees around 20 people. The founder was the two engineers of Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. They proclaimed, “The first and primary motive for setting up this company was to create a stable work environment, where engineers who had a deep and profound appreciation for technology, could realize their societal mission and work to their heart’s content………” as the company’s Founding Prospectus.
From this massage, we can see the company’s strong determination which the company had desired to produce highly innovative products based on the unprecedented “technology “, and wanted to enrich the social life by new electric goods even under the difficult conditions of the immediate afterward of the War. .
At the “Genryu” corner, the picture and photo, documents, and videos were displayed tin order to convey these principles and messages by using many episodes and stories.
I have visited this corner for finding the roots of Sony, and moved much by its zeitgeist mind and innovation spirit of the founding period.
♣ Brand products seen in the Timeline
In the “Timeline” corner, the memorial Sony products were systematically displayed by the time series which indicate the company’s development landmark. First I found was a “tape recorder” G-Type in 1950 (first magnetic tape recorder in Japan). And I also observed the first transistor radio TR-55 in
1955 next. Likewise, Sony has been successfully producing many electric products, and built solid foundation of company as an electric maker. The name of the company has also changed to “Sony” (1958) that time. And the Sony has been starting to produce many innovative electrical goods, such as Portable transistor TV “TV-8” (1960), the world’s first VTR “SV-201″(1961), and others.
The development of television was slightly slower than the other makers, but the
Trinitron color TV was introduced to the market in the end of 1960s. All these specimens are observable at the historic corner.
The 1970s was the era of popularization of the household electric appliances. Sony has actively committed in the technology development of television, video and other convenient electric products. The one outcome among them was the VTR with cassette. In the VTR market, Sony invented the “Betamax” system and had vigorously fight with Victor’s VTR even though the result was not successful (“Video War” Beta vs VHS). However, it was successful in the 8-mm video which applied CCD ahead of other manufacturers.
Nevertheless, the most successful electrical product of Sony would be, more than anything, the advent of the portable music cassette player of “Walkman” in 1979. This became a hit product to sell 150 million units by the second half of 1990s, and it was said that this machine had brought the revolutionary change of music culture.
The decade of 1980s was advancing to the digital era in the industry. In the midst, Sony has succeeded in the development of acoustic CD, and shown the technology excellence by producing a portable CD (1984), MO player (1988), and MD type player in 1992. The entry of engineering works to the PC and IT items were made at the same period. In addition, it was the 1990s when the Sony was beginning to focus on the entertainment business with marketing of the Play Station and “Aibo” series of pet robots.
It looked that the new noticeable products haven’t been appeared in the market after the late of 2000s, but the digital cameras, game machines, and high definition displays showed that the strong technology was still alive and well in the electric technology field.
When look at these product lines of Sony in the archives, we can imagine which way the technology has been explored in the electronic industries in Japan and how it was progressed so far. In that sense, “History Corner” of the Sony Archives would show the valuable historical evidence for the visitors.
♣ Sony brand in the “Idea Box” exhibition
This “Idea Box” section shows the Sony’s attached producing concept and features of products which have continuously been sought and refined in the company. It shows Sony’s strong commitment to the “Size” (being small and light thing), “Nice Design” (easy to use and smart), and product’s “Originality” (uniqueness and attractive for consumers). It was said that these are consisting of the Sony manufacturing brand concepts.
These concepts looked alive in the Sony’s products when we look the product lines in history, like the low weight portable TV, radio, and handful VTR, the cameras, PC and radios for smart design, and “Walkman” and entertainment robots, and game machines like “Playstation” for the product originality.
These exhibitions would give us a clear image of Sony’s technology brand and the engineering spirit which had been nurtured in the Sony’s engineering.
♣ Sony Engineering Brand in Future
When it comes to the 2000s, even the technology oriented manufacturer like Sony looked slightly blurred in business if compared to the previous brilliant history. It may be caused by the fast catching up technology of emerging new manufacturers. So it is a bit unfortunate to see the loosing competitive power in the global market of the electronic and electrical industry of Japan, even in the Sony. However, now Japanese electric makers, including Sony, are trying to activate their own technology in the global perspective, and precede the innovation as shown in the previous period.
Anyway, during visit museum, I felt that it is really wonderful to praise the previous success, but also it is important to review the previous endeavors and founding spirit abut Japanese electric industry for their further advancement. In that sense, I enjoyed and learned a lot by closely look over the many historical exhibits and episode of Sony’s footprints regarding “Mono-dukuri” (Manufacturing mind).
- ソニー歴史資料館 (Sony Archives) Pamphlet