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Oral-History:Susumo Yoshida

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== About Susumo Yoshida  ==
 
== About Susumo Yoshida  ==
  
Susumu Yoshida was born in 1923 in Japan. Only one other of his several siblings became involved in electrical engineering. After finishing a program in communications engineering at Tohoku University, he took a job with Tokyo Musen Denki and became active in the predecessor organization of the EIAJ. He later took positions at Nishikawa Denpa and Totsuko, working in the field of high fidelity audio products and television display tubes.  
+
Susumu Yoshida was born in 1923 in Japan. Only one other of his several siblings became involved in electrical engineering. After finishing a program in communications engineering at Tohoku University, he took a job with Tokyo Musen Denki and became active in the predecessor organization of the EIAJ. He later took positions at Nishikawa Denpa and Totsuko, working in the field of high fidelity audio products and [[Television|television]] display tubes.  
  
 
Yoshida discusses his childhood and education, wartime work, and early postwar career. After impressing the head of the future Sony Corporation, he was offered a job there. He stayed at Sony for some time and describes the company's development of audio devices including small transistor radios, tape recorders, and portable television sets. Much of the interview focuses on one of Sony's most important products, the Trinitron television display tube. The remainder of the interview discusses management at Sony and Aiwa, where Yoshida was later employed.  
 
Yoshida discusses his childhood and education, wartime work, and early postwar career. After impressing the head of the future Sony Corporation, he was offered a job there. He stayed at Sony for some time and describes the company's development of audio devices including small transistor radios, tape recorders, and portable television sets. Much of the interview focuses on one of Sony's most important products, the Trinitron television display tube. The remainder of the interview discusses management at Sony and Aiwa, where Yoshida was later employed.  
 
<br>
 
  
 
== About the Interview  ==
 
== About the Interview  ==
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SUSUMU YOSHIDA: An Interview Conducted by William Aspray, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, May 24, 1994  
 
SUSUMU YOSHIDA: An Interview Conducted by William Aspray, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, May 24, 1994  
  
Interview #208 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
+
Interview #208 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
 
== Copyright Statement  ==
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This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.  
 
This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.  
  
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, Rutgers - the State University, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.  
+
Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.  
  
 
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:  
 
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:  
  
Susumu Yoshida, an oral history conducted in 1994 by William Aspray, IEEE History Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
+
Susumu Yoshida, an oral history conducted in 1994 by William Aspray, IEEE History Center,&nbsp; New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
 
+
<br>
+
  
 
== Interview  ==
 
== Interview  ==
  
Interview: Susumu Yoshida<br>Interviewer: William Aspray<br>Date: May 24, 1994<br>Place: Aiwa Headquarters, Tokyo  
+
Interview: Susumu Yoshida  
 +
 
 +
Interviewer: William Aspray  
 +
 
 +
Date: May 24, 1994  
 +
 
 +
Place: Aiwa Headquarters, Tokyo  
  
 
[Note: Yoshida's replies are via a translator (Trans.), while another person (3rd Person) also makes many translations and adds comments.]  
 
[Note: Yoshida's replies are via a translator (Trans.), while another person (3rd Person) also makes many translations and adds comments.]  
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'''Yoshida:'''  
 
'''Yoshida:'''  
  
I was one of six children, four of them male. My eldest brother graduated in economics, but my second brother graduated from Tohoku Imperial University. My second brother was the only one somewhat involved in the scientific or technological world. Finally, he ended up working for NTT, which is one of the largest telephone companies in Japan. He tried to develop a new amplifier, instead of a loading coil device. If you are transmitting a signal from a long distance, the signal attenuates (amplitude goes down). The amplifiers were inserted from location to location. That kind of work he has done. So, as far as Yoshida is concerned, the second brother is the only other person involved in science and technology out of the six. Dr. Yoshida was the youngest son of the Yoshida. The third brother was a diplomat, and his final position was as ambassador to mainland China. The other two sisters are just housekeepers, plain, ordinary, down to earth. So, in conclusion, he wasn't really raised in a scientific family.  
+
I was one of six children, four of them male. My eldest brother graduated in economics, but my second brother graduated from Tohoku Imperial University. My second brother was the only one somewhat involved in the scientific or technological world. Finally, he ended up working for NTT, which is one of the largest [[Telephone|telephone]] companies in Japan. He tried to develop a new amplifier, instead of a loading coil device. If you are transmitting a signal from a long distance, the signal attenuates (amplitude goes down). The amplifiers were inserted from location to location. That kind of work he has done. So, as far as Yoshida is concerned, the second brother is the only other person involved in science and technology out of the six. Dr. Yoshida was the youngest son of the Yoshida. The third brother was a diplomat, and his final position was as ambassador to mainland China. The other two sisters are just housekeepers, plain, ordinary, down to earth. So, in conclusion, he wasn't really raised in a scientific family.  
  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
  
As you were growing up, did you have hobbies that showed an interest in science or engineering, such as ham radio, chemistry sets, or building motors?  
+
As you were growing up, did you have hobbies that showed an interest in science or engineering, such as [[Amateur Radio|ham radio]], chemistry sets, or building motors?  
  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
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'''3rd Person:'''  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
  
Yes. Public address. In Nishikawa Denpa he was working on loudspeakers, phonograph pick-ups under the brand name ''Permax''.  
+
Yes. Public address. In Nishikawa Denpa he was working on [[Loudspeakers|loudspeakers]], phonograph pick-ups under the brand name ''Permax''.  
  
 
=== Totsuko (Sony) and Audio Work  ===
 
=== Totsuko (Sony) and Audio Work  ===
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Because of Mr. Oga, the present president of Sony. Mr. Oga is very much interested in amplifiers and hi-fi. He, by himself, built his own amplifier. If he heard that Sansui Electric announced a very high quality hi-fi system he would go there and try to buy it, or he would buy Heathkit stuff and build it by himself. Anyway, he had a great hobby pursuing the highest quality of sound. Mr. Oga was looking for the best quality pick-up. He went to a variety of various manufacturers, and one of them was the Nishikawa Denpa. At that time Nishikawa Denpa had just announced improved high-quality pick-up, and Mr. Oga asked to buy one and bring it back to his house. He tested it and was quite impressed. It turns out that the pick-up was adopted by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) later. So that's the beginning of Dr. Yoshida and Totsuko's interaction. Any component has to be approved by NHK's Research laboratories.  
 
Because of Mr. Oga, the present president of Sony. Mr. Oga is very much interested in amplifiers and hi-fi. He, by himself, built his own amplifier. If he heard that Sansui Electric announced a very high quality hi-fi system he would go there and try to buy it, or he would buy Heathkit stuff and build it by himself. Anyway, he had a great hobby pursuing the highest quality of sound. Mr. Oga was looking for the best quality pick-up. He went to a variety of various manufacturers, and one of them was the Nishikawa Denpa. At that time Nishikawa Denpa had just announced improved high-quality pick-up, and Mr. Oga asked to buy one and bring it back to his house. He tested it and was quite impressed. It turns out that the pick-up was adopted by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) later. So that's the beginning of Dr. Yoshida and Totsuko's interaction. Any component has to be approved by NHK's Research laboratories.  
  
Doctor Yoshio Tomita was a superior of Dr. Heitaro Nakajima, who you just interviewed. As, you know, Dr. Nakajima used to work at the research laboratories of NHK. There his pick-up was approved, and adopted for use in broadcasting. Mr. Tomita happened to be also a Tohoku University graduate. Quite funny. Because Mr. Oga was a major in music, he was a professional opera singer. He was very enthusiastic about audio. Mr. Oga told Dr. Yoshida, "You shouldn't be working in this kind of obscure company. Well, it's a joke." So Mr. Oga said, "I will introduce you to a very unique company." He was introduced to Masaru Ibuka by Mr. Oga. Mr. Ibuka told Dr. Yoshida that, "Our company employs a total of three hundred people." Here Dr. Yoshida was employed, and his employee number was one hundred and ninety-five. So that was the technique that worked. At that time the total number employed was less than two hundred. It's amazing, right now, how few that was.  
+
Doctor Yoshio Tomita was a superior of Dr. Heitaro Nakajima, who you just interviewed. As, you know, Dr. Nakajima used to work at the research laboratories of NHK. There his pick-up was approved, and adopted for use in broadcasting. Mr. Tomita happened to be also a Tohoku University graduate. Quite funny. Because Mr. Oga was a major in music, he was a professional opera singer. He was very enthusiastic about audio. Mr. Oga told Dr. Yoshida, "You shouldn't be working in this kind of obscure company. Well, it's a joke." So Mr. Oga said, "I will introduce you to a very unique company." He was introduced to [[Masaru Ibuka|Masaru Ibuka]] by Mr. Oga. Mr. Ibuka told Dr. Yoshida that, "Our company employs a total of three hundred people." Here Dr. Yoshida was employed, and his employee number was one hundred and ninety-five. So that was the technique that worked. At that time the total number employed was less than two hundred. It's amazing, right now, how few that was.  
  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
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'''3rd Person:'''  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
  
Let him first add, he was working on audio equipment and such, but one day Mr. Ibuka came to his place and said, "What are you doing? Why don't you work on the semiconductor?" That was the great change of his research subject from the acoustical device to the semiconductor field. Why don't I show you a piece of his work?  
+
Let him first add, he was working on audio equipment and such, but one day [[Masaru Ibuka|Mr. Ibuka]] came to his place and said, "What are you doing? Why don't you work on the [[Semiconductors|semiconductor]]?" That was the great change of his research subject from the acoustical device to the semiconductor field. Why don't I show you a piece of his work?  
  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
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'''3rd Person:'''  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
  
Its product planning was to make a tiny portable pocket radio. That was Mr. Ibuka's idea. That's why he had to develop the new type of transistor, small ones, for the consumers' use. Therefore he went to Western Electric to get the license. There is an episode to add, that Western Electric frankly told Mr. Ibuka, "Our present transistor technology is not up to high frequency range, so you had better give up. So why don't you start with a hearing aid instead of a radio?" But they succeeded.  
+
Its product planning was to make a tiny portable pocket [[Radio|radio]]. That was Mr. Ibuka's idea. That's why he had to develop the new type of [[Transistors|transistor]], small ones, for the consumers' use. Therefore he went to Western Electric to get the license. There is an episode to add, that Western Electric frankly told Mr. Ibuka, "Our present transistor technology is not up to high frequency range, so you had better give up. So why don't you start with a hearing aid instead of a radio?" But they succeeded.  
  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
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'''3rd Person:'''  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
  
Sony bought the cathode-ray tube manufacturer, Nakata Dehshi. However, they designed and built all the circuitry, including components and the tuner. It was important to develop high-frequency transistors. Dr. Yoshida says Mr. Ibuka asked them to make the transistors for the tuner. Everybody worked hard, and one out of one hundred was successful. Then Mr. Ibuka said, "If you can make one out of one hundred, there is no reason whatsoever that you cannot make one hundred, so go ahead, do mass production." So the time from basic research to mass production there was really short, and Sony obtained the license from G.E. for manufacturing the transistor by using diffusion method technology. With the silicon transistor, you know, you have to set up your production line and have a detailed manufacturing process, from one process to another process, and do it very carefully. But Mr. Ibuka wasn't that way. "If you can make one out of one hundred, why not?"  
+
Sony bought the cathode-ray tube manufacturer, Nakata Dehshi. However, they designed and built all the circuitry, including components and the tuner. It was important to develop high-frequency transistors. Dr. Yoshida says Mr. Ibuka asked them to make the transistors for the tuner. Everybody worked hard, and one out of one hundred was successful. Then Mr. Ibuka said, "If you can make one out of one hundred, there is no reason whatsoever that you cannot make one hundred, so go ahead, do mass production." So the time from basic research to mass production there was really short, and Sony obtained the license from [[General Electric (GE)|G.E.]] for manufacturing the transistor by using diffusion method technology. With the silicon transistor, you know, you have to set up your production line and have a detailed manufacturing process, from one process to another process, and do it very carefully. But Mr. Ibuka wasn't that way. "If you can make one out of one hundred, why not?"  
  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
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'''3rd Person:'''  
 
'''3rd Person:'''  
  
Something different. So, of course, at that time, as you know, RCA was already mass producing the shadow mask type color TVs, as many other manufacturers were doing. The basic philosophy of the Sony Corporation was, "Something Different." Don't be the copycat.  
+
Something different. So, of course, at that time, as you know, [[RCA (Radio Corporation of America)|RCA]] was already mass producing the shadow mask type color TVs, as many other manufacturers were doing. The basic philosophy of the Sony Corporation was, "Something Different." Don't be the copycat.  
  
 
'''Trans.:'''  
 
'''Trans.:'''  
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'''Trans.:'''  
 
'''Trans.:'''  
  
Obviously, one has to regard the American television industry, the television manufacturers, as the great teachers of the Japanese, not just in television, but as one example of that process. What Dr. Yoshida was saying, is that we have reached the point now where Japan has to produce it's own originality and discover its own new original developments. That's the biggest goal in front of Japanese industry now. Whether that ability is there or not, he doesn't really want to go into. Speaking of the Trinitron in particular, when we first announced it in Japan, it was to a large extent rejected by Japanese makers and industry, I think it's fair to say. It was the approval of the Trinitron that came from the US, from the IEEE, that led to its being respected in its home market. It was a process of going over and then coming back. Therefore, that was testament to the fact that that kind of originality is instantly and very well regarded in the US, as a part of the culture. I think America is the most wonderful nation in regards to its respect for and its ability to recognize and to acclaim originality, wherever the source is, and wherever it has come from.  
+
Obviously, one has to regard the American television industry, the television manufacturers, as the great teachers of the Japanese, not just in television, but as one example of that process. What Dr. Yoshida was saying, is that we have reached the point now where Japan has to produce it's own originality and discover its own new original developments. That's the biggest goal in front of Japanese industry now. Whether that ability is there or not, he doesn't really want to go into. Speaking of the Trinitron in particular, when we first announced it in Japan, it was to a large extent rejected by Japanese makers and industry, I think it's fair to say. It was the approval of the Trinitron that came from the US, from the [[IEEE History|IEEE]], that led to its being respected in its home market. It was a process of going over and then coming back. Therefore, that was testament to the fact that that kind of originality is instantly and very well regarded in the US, as a part of the culture. I think America is the most wonderful nation in regards to its respect for and its ability to recognize and to acclaim originality, wherever the source is, and wherever it has come from.  
  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
 
'''Aspray:'''  
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I see. I think I could ask questions for many more hours, but we should probably stop at this point. Thank you very much.  
 
I see. I think I could ask questions for many more hours, but we should probably stop at this point. Thank you very much.  
  
[[Category:People_and_organizations]] [[Category:Corporations]] [[Category:Engineers]] [[Category:Inventors]] [[Category:Business,_management_&_industry|Category:Business,_management_&amp;_industry]] [[Category:Business]] [[Category:Innovation_management]] [[Category:Marketing_management]] [[Category:Research_and_development_management]] [[Category:International_collaboration]] [[Category:International_trade]] [[Category:Culture_and_society]] [[Category:Defense_&_security|Category:Defense_&amp;_security]] [[Category:World_War_II]] [[Category:Trade]] [[Category:International_affairs_&_development|Category:International_affairs_&amp;_development]] [[Category:Cultural_relations]] [[Category:Power,_energy_&_industry_application|Category:Power,_energy_&amp;_industry_application]] [[Category:Consumer_electronics]] [[Category:Communications]] [[Category:Broadcasting]] [[Category:Radio_broadcasting]] [[Category:TV_broadcasting]] [[Category:Communication_equipment]] [[Category:Components,_circuits,_devices_&_systems|Category:Components,_circuits,_devices_&amp;_systems]] [[Category:Electron_devices]] [[Category:Cathode_ray_tubes]] [[Category:Semiconductor_devices]] [[Category:Transistors]] [[Category:Signals]] [[Category:Signal_generation_&_recording|Category:Signal_generation_&amp;_recording]] [[Category:Audio_recording]] [[Category:Computers_and_information_processing]] [[Category:Magnetic_memory]] [[Category:Standardization]]
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[[Category:People and organizations|Yoshida]] [[Category:Corporations|Yoshida]] [[Category:Engineers|Yoshida]] [[Category:Inventors|Yoshida]] [[Category:Business, management & industry|Yoshida]] [[Category:Business|Yoshida]] [[Category:Innovation management|Yoshida]] [[Category:Marketing management|Yoshida]] [[Category:Research and development management|Yoshida]] [[Category:International collaboration|Yoshida]] [[Category:International trade|Yoshida]] [[Category:Culture and society|Yoshida]] [[Category:Defense & security|Yoshida]] [[Category:World War II|Yoshida]] [[Category:Trade|Yoshida]] [[Category:International affairs & development|Yoshida]] [[Category:Cultural relations|Yoshida]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry application|Yoshida]] [[Category:Consumer electronics|Yoshida]] [[Category:Communications|Yoshida]] [[Category:Broadcasting|Yoshida]] [[Category:Radio broadcasting|Yoshida]] [[Category:TV broadcasting|Yoshida]] [[Category:Communication equipment|Yoshida]] [[Category:Components, circuits, devices & systems|Yoshida]] [[Category:Electron devices|Yoshida]] [[Category:Cathode ray tubes|Yoshida]] [[Category:Semiconductor devices|Yoshida]] [[Category:Transistors|Yoshida]] [[Category:Signals|Yoshida]] [[Category:Signal generation & recording|Yoshida]] [[Category:Audio recording|Yoshida]] [[Category:Computers and information processing|Yoshida]] [[Category:Magnetic memory|Yoshida]] [[Category:Standardization|Yoshida]] [[Category:News|Yoshida]]

Revision as of 18:14, 30 March 2012

Contents

About Susumo Yoshida

Susumu Yoshida was born in 1923 in Japan. Only one other of his several siblings became involved in electrical engineering. After finishing a program in communications engineering at Tohoku University, he took a job with Tokyo Musen Denki and became active in the predecessor organization of the EIAJ. He later took positions at Nishikawa Denpa and Totsuko, working in the field of high fidelity audio products and television display tubes.

Yoshida discusses his childhood and education, wartime work, and early postwar career. After impressing the head of the future Sony Corporation, he was offered a job there. He stayed at Sony for some time and describes the company's development of audio devices including small transistor radios, tape recorders, and portable television sets. Much of the interview focuses on one of Sony's most important products, the Trinitron television display tube. The remainder of the interview discusses management at Sony and Aiwa, where Yoshida was later employed.

About the Interview

SUSUMU YOSHIDA: An Interview Conducted by William Aspray, Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, May 24, 1994

Interview #208 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Susumu Yoshida, an oral history conducted in 1994 by William Aspray, IEEE History Center,  New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Susumu Yoshida

Interviewer: William Aspray

Date: May 24, 1994

Place: Aiwa Headquarters, Tokyo

[Note: Yoshida's replies are via a translator (Trans.), while another person (3rd Person) also makes many translations and adds comments.]

Family Background and Childhood

Aspray:

Could you begin by telling me when and where you were born, and what your parents did for their living?

Yoshida:

I was born on the 30th of May 1923.

Aspray:

Were members of your family, brothers and sisters, or your parents or grandparents who were involved with science and engineering?

Yoshida:

I was one of six children, four of them male. My eldest brother graduated in economics, but my second brother graduated from Tohoku Imperial University. My second brother was the only one somewhat involved in the scientific or technological world. Finally, he ended up working for NTT, which is one of the largest telephone companies in Japan. He tried to develop a new amplifier, instead of a loading coil device. If you are transmitting a signal from a long distance, the signal attenuates (amplitude goes down). The amplifiers were inserted from location to location. That kind of work he has done. So, as far as Yoshida is concerned, the second brother is the only other person involved in science and technology out of the six. Dr. Yoshida was the youngest son of the Yoshida. The third brother was a diplomat, and his final position was as ambassador to mainland China. The other two sisters are just housekeepers, plain, ordinary, down to earth. So, in conclusion, he wasn't really raised in a scientific family.

Aspray:

As you were growing up, did you have hobbies that showed an interest in science or engineering, such as ham radio, chemistry sets, or building motors?

3rd Person:

Well, he wasn't really keen on ham or any scientific work, chemistry or anything like that. He had a younger friend who at that time had an electric phonograph, and he was quite attracted by it. Of course, as a typical child he made model of a ship and things like that. He liked to build things, but was not particularly interested in scientific gadgets.

Aspray:

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Trans.:

Yoshida-San said that within his family, there were a number of medical doctors, and that there was some expectation that he would enter that profession. Alternatively, he did think at some time of becoming an architect. He was always interested in making model planes and building things in that sense. So those were the main ideas.

Aspray:

Was it expected that you would go to college?

Trans.:

I think so. Yes, there was a very strong emphasis and pressure on education within Mr. Yoshida's family.

Aspray:

How did the war affect your studies and your preparations for your career?

Yoshida:

When Mr. Yoshida entered high school, usually high school in Japan was three years in length. In his case it was cut to two and a half years. University was three years. During that time, also, he worked part time work at the factory for military production.

3rd Person:

Do you know anything about the old Japanese education system?

Aspray:

I have heard a little bit about this last week; otherwise, I don't know much about it.

3rd Person:

Well, more or less, we copied our old school system from the European style, so it's a gymnasium type. Dr. Yoshida was supposed to finish after three years. Normally, the course is given for three years, but because there was a war they had to make it shorter, like two years, and during his university years, he had to go to work in a factory. Not attending class was a sort of a national order in order for Japan to beat the "Yankees." We failed! [Laughter]

Tohoku University

Aspray:

How did you choose to go to Tohoku University, and how did you choose electrical engineering as your course of study?

3rd Person:

For two reasons. One is that his elder brother, as he told you, went to Tohoku Imperial University. Also Dr. Yoshida's father's friend's son was a professor, Uda. He is the inventor of the Yagi antenna, one of the TV antennas. That's two reasons why. Professor Uda kindly took care of him while he was at Tohoku University.

Aspray:

What was the emphasis in your course of studies? Was it communications technology, or power, or something else?

3rd Person:

Communications. He majored in communications. Tohoku University is not really strong in the field of power engineering, so the professors for the hydrodynamics or the hydro-turbine course came from Toshiba. Other lecturers came from Hitachi, and so forth. The professors were not really top-notch people, so he chose the communications field.

Aspray:

In addition to Professor Uda, were there other members of the faculty who had an influence on your training and career?

3rd Person:

Two professors. One is Professor Kenzo Nagai, who was the authority at that time in network theory. The second was Professor Nukiyama. Professor Heiichi Nukiyama worked with Professor A. E. Kennely at Harvard University. He was well known in the field of electro-acoustics. So that professor had a heavy influence over Dr. Yoshida. Also Professor Watanabe was in the faculty, whose major field was electron tubes, who studied under the direction of Professor Barkhausen in Germany.

Aspray:

Yes, very well known. Were you a good student in university?

Trans.:

Well, yes. Looking back, I think I was a fairly good, serious student.

3rd Person:

Professor Nukiyama was a character. He told students, "My theory of electromagnetism, you people won't understand. Maybe, perhaps you will understand ten years later. So, at this moment, what you have to do is take the exam. You can bring any books, any reference, and if you get a seventy percent or higher score, I will give you credit." That kind of "good old type professor" was Professor Nukiyama.

Tokyo Musen Denki and PA Systems

Aspray:

You graduated just at the end of the war. Was it difficult to find a job then?

3rd Person:

It was very difficult right after the war. All the Japanese industries were practically wiped out. Dr. Yoshida found a job at Tokyo Musen Denki. While he worked for Tokyo Musen Denki, he was active in the Industry Association, which was the former name of the EIAJ.

Takahashi:

The predecessor organization of Electronics Industries Association of Japan.

Aspray:

He was attending committee meetings of theirs?

3rd Person:

He met the president of Nishikawa Denpa and while he was there talking the president of Nishikawa Denpa asked him to work for them, and he said, "Yes."

Aspray:

But, what did you do at Tokyo Musen Denki?

3rd Person:

He worked on the P.A. system for schools and so on.

Aspray:

P.A. systems?

3rd Person:

Yes. Public address. In Nishikawa Denpa he was working on loudspeakers, phonograph pick-ups under the brand name Permax.

Totsuko (Sony) and Audio Work

Aspray:

Why did you leave Nishikawa Denpa to go to Totsuko (presently known as Sony)?

3rd Person:

Because of Mr. Oga, the present president of Sony. Mr. Oga is very much interested in amplifiers and hi-fi. He, by himself, built his own amplifier. If he heard that Sansui Electric announced a very high quality hi-fi system he would go there and try to buy it, or he would buy Heathkit stuff and build it by himself. Anyway, he had a great hobby pursuing the highest quality of sound. Mr. Oga was looking for the best quality pick-up. He went to a variety of various manufacturers, and one of them was the Nishikawa Denpa. At that time Nishikawa Denpa had just announced improved high-quality pick-up, and Mr. Oga asked to buy one and bring it back to his house. He tested it and was quite impressed. It turns out that the pick-up was adopted by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) later. So that's the beginning of Dr. Yoshida and Totsuko's interaction. Any component has to be approved by NHK's Research laboratories.

Doctor Yoshio Tomita was a superior of Dr. Heitaro Nakajima, who you just interviewed. As, you know, Dr. Nakajima used to work at the research laboratories of NHK. There his pick-up was approved, and adopted for use in broadcasting. Mr. Tomita happened to be also a Tohoku University graduate. Quite funny. Because Mr. Oga was a major in music, he was a professional opera singer. He was very enthusiastic about audio. Mr. Oga told Dr. Yoshida, "You shouldn't be working in this kind of obscure company. Well, it's a joke." So Mr. Oga said, "I will introduce you to a very unique company." He was introduced to Masaru Ibuka by Mr. Oga. Mr. Ibuka told Dr. Yoshida that, "Our company employs a total of three hundred people." Here Dr. Yoshida was employed, and his employee number was one hundred and ninety-five. So that was the technique that worked. At that time the total number employed was less than two hundred. It's amazing, right now, how few that was.

Aspray:

What was your original job at Totsuko?

3rd Person:

The first assignment was in the area of audio. He worked on pick-ups, speakers, and microphones. Also, Sony was already producing tape recorders, so he worked on a magnetic head. At that time the chief engineer was a Mr. Iwama, the former president of the Sony Corporation. Tape recorders were very expensive, and they were only for institutional use, such as in courts for recording. But the idea of Totsuko was to make the product cheaper and popular for the people. They were trying to mass-produce the tape recorder at a very reasonable price. Dr. Yoshida's first assignment was to make a simple yet very economical tape recorder, and he was engaged in the development of the magnetic head and microphone. Not for professional use, but for consumers' use. The tape recorder was going to be a consumer product, not just for institutional use.

Aspray:

Yes.

3rd Person:

The next assignment was to develop a condenser pick-up. At that time everybody was working on high-frequency modulation. However, his device used a DC-biased condenser, and he made it a commercial product. However, quite unfortunately, Japan has a rainy season from about June to the beginning of July. When the humidity was very high, the condenser would discharge involuntarily and make a great noise. But in the dry season it had a very high quality. So it should only be used in Arizona!

Aspray:

I would be pleased if you would trace through the major technologies you worked on during your career, one after the other, and I'll ask questions as you tell me the story.

Semiconductors and the Transistor Radio

3rd Person:

Let him first add, he was working on audio equipment and such, but one day Mr. Ibuka came to his place and said, "What are you doing? Why don't you work on the semiconductor?" That was the great change of his research subject from the acoustical device to the semiconductor field. Why don't I show you a piece of his work?

Aspray:

I have this in front of me, also. It tells about his official titles and positions, but it doesn't talk about the technologies that he worked on, and I'd like to do it from a project point of view.

3rd Person:

How about this section? How about this format?

Aspray:

Yes, this is much more helpful. I can ask questions from that.

3rd Person:

Also, I can provide you with a much more complete description of what he has done, and what his major breakthroughs were, what was the point of writing on the later work in Japan.

Aspray:

Why was Sony in the semiconductor business? What was its strategic role for being in semiconductors? How did it fit in with corporate plans?

3rd Person:

Its product planning was to make a tiny portable pocket radio. That was Mr. Ibuka's idea. That's why he had to develop the new type of transistor, small ones, for the consumers' use. Therefore he went to Western Electric to get the license. There is an episode to add, that Western Electric frankly told Mr. Ibuka, "Our present transistor technology is not up to high frequency range, so you had better give up. So why don't you start with a hearing aid instead of a radio?" But they succeeded.

Aspray:

Yes. There were many manufacturers of transistor radios, especially in the early years. How did Sony's products compare with those of their competitors?

3rd Person:

The world's first transistor radio was made in the USA. Regency? Yes. However, Sony truly commercialized the transistor radio in Japan and then in America. Sony's was the first successful commercialized transistor radio. So your question is, how could it be compared with other radios? Sony was far ahead of other manufacturers. In terms of quality and quantity Sony was number one already. The other manufacturer was using RCA's technology, an all-alloy transistor, but Sony was using a grown-type transistor. They had a tough time catching up with Sony.

B&W Transistorized Television

Aspray:

Perhaps we can talk in more detail about television. How did Sony get into the television business originally, and what was your role in the development of television products, from your earliest development up through the Trinitron?

Trans.:

Mr. Ibuka's idea was that the next expansion in Sony's business should come through television. As a part of that they started with black-and-white sets, and they bought out a CRT manufacturer, called Nakata Denshi to use them as a supplier of CRTs. The next step was to transistorize televisions.

Aspray:

You bought a cathode-ray-tube company, but did you design the tuners and so on, the whole system, and put it together, or were they already manufacturing TVs as well as cathode-ray tubes?

3rd Person:

Sony bought the cathode-ray tube manufacturer, Nakata Dehshi. However, they designed and built all the circuitry, including components and the tuner. It was important to develop high-frequency transistors. Dr. Yoshida says Mr. Ibuka asked them to make the transistors for the tuner. Everybody worked hard, and one out of one hundred was successful. Then Mr. Ibuka said, "If you can make one out of one hundred, there is no reason whatsoever that you cannot make one hundred, so go ahead, do mass production." So the time from basic research to mass production there was really short, and Sony obtained the license from G.E. for manufacturing the transistor by using diffusion method technology. With the silicon transistor, you know, you have to set up your production line and have a detailed manufacturing process, from one process to another process, and do it very carefully. But Mr. Ibuka wasn't that way. "If you can make one out of one hundred, why not?"

Aspray:

I see.

3rd Person:

The first black-and-white TV produced by the Sony Corporation was not really all transistorized. Of course, they used the power transistors, but in the high-voltage power supply, they still had to use vacuum tubes. But the next product has a seven inch black-and-white screen and was called Tiny TV. It was all transistorized, except of course for the CRT.

Aspray:

Was Sony's product differentiated from other black-and-white televisions that were being manufactured in Japan?

3rd Person:

Yes, talking about the differentiation, it's due to the transistor. Sony entered into the black and white TV market with a transistorized TV. The company had never put vacuum tube TV on sale. The key word is the transistor. The first commercially successful product using all transistorized TV was a Sony.

Aspray:

Would you say that it's a general pattern in Sony's success that they have been not only a system manufacturer of consumer products, but also in the semiconductor business, and that these things go hand in hand in a way?

3rd Person:

Yes, it is.

Chromatron Television

Aspray:

How important was it, around 1960, to start to get into the color television business? Was it critical to keep your market share to develop a color television?

3rd Person:

At that time in the 1960s, Sony had just finished commercializing the tape recorder, the radio, and the black and white TVs. Having those products, Mr. Ibuka asked, what is the next commercial item to be tackled? His answer: "It's going to be the color TV."

Aspray:

I see.

3rd Person:

So it was a natural trend.

Aspray:

To keep innovating in consumer products.

3rd Person:

Right.

Aspray:

What was Sony's strategy towards designing a color television set?

3rd Person:

Something different. So, of course, at that time, as you know, RCA was already mass producing the shadow mask type color TVs, as many other manufacturers were doing. The basic philosophy of the Sony Corporation was, "Something Different." Don't be the copycat.

Trans.:

It's in Sony's founding prospectus.

Aspray:

I see. Was there a range of opportunities for doing color television differently than the shadow mask approach? Were there many different options to choose among?

3rd Person:

There were Apple tubes, and Andromeda tubes, and of course Chromatrons. There were many other concepts. Even if they were only paper concepts, there were many options. They decided to choose the Chromatron.

Aspray:

But the Chromatron was already in production, wasn't it?

3rd Person:

No, it wasn't, no. Just developed.

Aspray:

It was just developed?

3rd Person:

In the research laboratory.

Aspray:

Yes, but it wasn't manufactured?

3rd Person:

No.

Aspray:

This American company, I've forgotten who it was.

3rd Person:

Paramount.

Aspray:

Did they have plans to mass-produce this?

3rd Person:

I doubt it very much.

Aspray:

I see. They didn't have the ability?

3rd Person:

No. They didn't have any capability.

Aspray:

So this was a viable option for Sony to consider. It was a different way; it wasn't copying somebody else into the marketplace?

3rd Person:

Yes, right.

Aspray:

What attracted you to this technology over the other alternatives?

3rd Person:

It was beautiful. The Chromatron is beautiful, bright, and sharp, if it works. If it can be mass-produced, it is a fantastic product. They only produced eighteen thousand sets, and it was nice, bright, clear, and sharp. People really appreciated the product. There was even a lifetime guarantee by the Sony Corporation. If it was broken, customers could ask Sony to fix it and Sony fixed it for free.

Aspray:

Was this an unprecedented offer, the lifetime warranty?

3rd Person:

Yes.

Aspray:

I take it the problem was that you couldn't charge your customers enough to make a profit on these.

3rd Person:

That's right, the customer gets the profits! We re-priced one by one, and finally ended up withdrawing them from the market. But it's a free exchange.

Aspray:

Suppose that you had decided to stay with this technology rather than developing a new one. Were there opportunities to slowly develop a good manufacturing process and make incremental changes in this television set so that you could have made it a viable economic product for Sony?

3rd Person:

I think Sony would be defunct.

Aspray:

I see.

3rd Person:

Theoretically it could be done, but it's too dangerous financially. Business-wise it's a bad choice to continue mass-producing the Chromatron.

Trinitron Television

Aspray:

So you decided that you needed a new alternative.

3rd Person:

That's right.

Aspray:

How did you choose that?

3rd Person:

One candidate was the Porta color developed by GE. Mr. Iwama and Dr. Yoshida went to Syracuse to see the Porta color TV set. Mr. Iwama said, "This is second our choice after the Chromatron tube." But Dr. Yoshida said, "It's not going to be a good product." At that time Mr. Ibuka was in London, making a public announcement of the very first integrated circuit radio, and Mr. Ibuka and Mr. Iwama talked via international call. Yoshida-San was strongly against this Porta color, and was very reluctant to take over this as the next generation of Sony product. GE asked Sony to license the Porta-color, but that was terminated because of his opinion. By the end of 1966, the mass-production of the chromatron tube TV set should have been terminated, and the whole organization in research and production should have been reorganized, re-structured, and re-engineered. But he was told by Mr. Iwama, "No, sorry." Dr. Yoshida conceded there, as a protocol.

The advantage of in-line guns is they are linear, compared with the delta-type configuration, which is a two-dimensional program. In-line, linear, one-dimensional configuration makes it very easy to converge the three electron beams. So Dr. Yoshida liked the idea of in-line gun, and he thought, "how about a combination of in-line and aperture grill, which was used for the chromatron tube?" One more thing is, if you use three guns, the lens diameter is going to be small. So he thought, "this is the punch-line really, how could you make an in-line, large diameter lens, electron optics and with aperture grill?" That was the birth of the Trinitron tube. In retrospect, it's very logical, but at that time it was a revolutionary idea, because everybody was using the delta guns.

Aspray:

The story is well known about Chromatron and Trinitron, but one thing that I have never read, any place, is what from your Chromatron experience did you know that you wanted to avoid in the Trinitron design? You had had so many difficulties with the Chromatron. What design possibilities did you just immediately throw out because of your Chromatron experience?

3rd Person:

The Chromatron is a post-focusing scheme, so the Chromatron grid has the voltage difference from the phosphor screen to a Chromatron grid. That he wanted to avoid because of the discharge.

Aspray:

Yes, just very high.

3rd Person:

That's right. That was one thing he wanted to avoid when he was got into the Trinitron.

Aspray:

Once you had the basic idea of Trinitron, what were the engineering challenges to get a successful first product?

3rd Person:

Everybody was against this idea, so the most important thing was that people had to understand his idea, and carry out some experiments. That was the most difficult part.

Aspray:

I see, so it was political rather than technical?

3rd Person:

Not political, just — you know how Japanese teams work. All engineers and scientists never want to do anything otherwise than the theoretically proven, but in this work you have to experiment. So the toughest part of the development is to convince people. The next technical difficulty was how to make the aperture grill. It's done by chemical etching and supporting the aperture grill. They were too thin. You have in line three guns passing through the large diameter. As the center of the lens, three beams cross, then diverging again, but you have to converge it again. Therefore, the Trinitron gun has the deflection plates at the top of the gun. That was another breakthrough.

Aspray:

I see. The Trinitron is a very unusual product in the consumer electronics field because it has lasted for so long without very much change to the basic design, it seems to me. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but that seems to be the correct premise. I assume there have been a whole series of innovations, both in terms of new products using it, improvements in the basic idea, and improvements in manufacturing technology, so that it could last such a long time and be such a successful product. Can you tell me about some of those things?

3rd Person:

Before that there is an episode I must tell you. Dr. Yoshida wants to tell it.

Aspray:

Yes.

3rd Person:

The first Trinitron was announced April 15th, 1968, and at the press release there were a whole bunch of newspapermen, men from industry press the Asahi, the Mainichi (both Japanese newspapers) and The New York Times. Mr. Ibuka said, in front of the public, "We are going to mass produce in October of this same year." But he had only ten tubes! [Laughter] That was a kind of nightmare.

Coming back to your question of why the Trinitron has such a long life as a product, well, so does the shadow mask. The basic concept of color TV CRT still exists in the shadow mask tube. Basically, the cathode ray tube is a noble product. Its cost is very inexpensive, and it's a well-proven product.

Takahashi:

In the meantime the whole level of technology, chemical etching, and so on, has remarkably improved. I think this is the real reason for the realization of the Trinitron tube.

Trans:

Of course, many improvements were made, like cathode material, the cathode itself, and phosphor and glass technologies. It's remarkable, really. It's incremental yet, in retrospect, as far as product improvement is concerned, it's up to the point now that the FAA has decided to use Trinitron tubes for their radar displays. The system was made by IBM and the Hughes Company, both using high-resolution Trinitron display tubes. Another requirement was that it had to be made in the USA, for security reasons, I think. As you know, Sony is manufacturing the Trinitron tube in San Diego.

Trinitrons and Personal Computers

Aspray:

Sitting on the desk in my home is a multimedia computer with a beautiful Trinitron screen.

3rd Person:

Right.

Aspray:

How important was the development of the personal computer business to the Trinitron and to Sony? How did it shape things?

3rd Person:

It's the monitor business — we call it the display monitor business. It's about thirty percent, starting from zero and growing very fast.

Aspray:

Thirty percent of the Trinitron business?

3rd Person:

That's right, of the total production.

Aspray:

Did certain kinds of technical innovations have to occur in order to accommodate this as a display unit?

3rd Person:

Yes, it had to have higher resolution. The pitch of the aperture grill has to be much finer than conventional color TVs. Also the scanning lines are different. You have to use a multi-scan.

Aspray:

So you get rid of flicker and such?

3rd Person:

That's right. And phosphor has to be improved.

Aspray:

So it won't fade?

3rd Person:

And printing the phosphor, non-interlaced or multi-scan.

Aspray:

Did any of these innovations, made for the display side, end up as improvements in the television side?

3rd Person:

Oh, yes. One of the good examples is high-definition TV. In the Trinitron, as you know, the electron beam impinges upon the shadow mask, or the aperture grill, inevitably due to some expansion. We call it the doming effect. The whole shadow mask expands, and this lands on a different color of phosphor. But the Trinitron is attached to the aperture grill. If the electron hits the aperture grill, it expands; but it immediately cools down, so it's very effective to the thermal phenomena. The other advantage of the Trinitron is that, by adopting the aperature grill, the Moiré patterns are eliminated. Actually, vertical resolution is theoretically infinity. It's only decided by the diameter of the beam. So it's very hard to observe the Moiré pattern. So these things made it possible to apply to the high-resolution display for the computer use: CAD, applications, very beautiful drawings, and also, as you have in your computer room, at your home.

Aspray:

Right.

3rd Person:

Trinitron is very popular. Perhaps coming back to questions about the product life, the Trinitron was found to be most suited for CRT display for computer use. That made the product life longer, not only the commercial TV applications.

Process from R&D to Manufacture

Aspray:

I do want to ask some questions about some other topics, but I wanted to give you a last chance to say anything more you would like to say about Trinitron, about technical issues, or business issues, or any observations that you'd like to make.

Trans.:

This is something that Dr. Yoshida touched on earlier on. He mentioned earlier an analogy where one can think of the discovery or the invention of the product as being step one. Developing that product into a full prototype is perhaps step ten. Bringing that product to full mass production is possibly step one hundred, in terms of the effort and the strength involved. For that, what's obviously important is the strength in the key devices, and the strength in production technology that brings you through that full process.

3rd Person:

So a key issue, or the key word, is continuity. The people have to continue to sell, to continue to make business, so one hundred is for production and persistence. One hundred is up to the production, but now in order to conduct the business, we need one thousand people. You have to continue, you just can't give up so easily.

Trans.:

The secret, therefore, of a truly great businessman, for instance Mr. Ibuka, is having the ability to draw on and produce that cooperation from a group of people. To draw all those strengths together to achieve the goal that has been set.

3rd Person:

Mr. Ibuka used to say, "The vector. Everyone has to have the same direction vector."

Trans.:

The power of persuasion.

3rd Person:

Persuasion engineering.

Trans.:

I was just saying that that was something that has come through very strongly as a theme throughout today's interviews.

Aspray:

Yes.

Trans.:

That persuasion, that strong setting of direction, that drawing of cooperation.

American Television Manufacturing

Aspray:

Do you care to make some comments about the American manufacturers of television, because they've had such a different history from that of Sony?

Trans.:

Obviously, one has to regard the American television industry, the television manufacturers, as the great teachers of the Japanese, not just in television, but as one example of that process. What Dr. Yoshida was saying, is that we have reached the point now where Japan has to produce it's own originality and discover its own new original developments. That's the biggest goal in front of Japanese industry now. Whether that ability is there or not, he doesn't really want to go into. Speaking of the Trinitron in particular, when we first announced it in Japan, it was to a large extent rejected by Japanese makers and industry, I think it's fair to say. It was the approval of the Trinitron that came from the US, from the IEEE, that led to its being respected in its home market. It was a process of going over and then coming back. Therefore, that was testament to the fact that that kind of originality is instantly and very well regarded in the US, as a part of the culture. I think America is the most wonderful nation in regards to its respect for and its ability to recognize and to acclaim originality, wherever the source is, and wherever it has come from.

Aspray:

Do you care to make some explanation of why it is that the American manufacturers left the television market?

3rd Person:

He said American industry's giving up the color TV business. This is a borderless technology, global technology.

Aspray:

So you think it's shortsightedness on the part of the American companies — I don't want to put words into your mouth —

3rd Person:

No, no, no. It's not shortsighted. It's a matter of global vision.

Aspray:

Okay.

3rd Person:

Dr. Yoshida believes that the economy, technology, and science don't have any borders. The only important borders exist in politics.

Aspray:

I see.

3rd Person:

Yes, the economy. Technology, science, culture. Those are borderless.

Management Philosophy and Innovation

Aspray:

Let me change topics, if I may. You had a career with increasing responsibility as a manager, and obviously you were successful as a manager, given the course of your career. Do you have some management philosophy, or can you explain why you have been successful over time as a manager?

Trans:

Two points really. Rather than any precisely set management philosophy, Dr. Yoshida was saying that from his background in research and technology, where one is concerned with problem solving and achieving certain goals, the key point is how to motivate people to work towards those goals. One of the key points in that is the ability to concentrate one's efforts. He was talking about Ibuka-San again. When he was first working on radio development, he was so concentrated on what he was doing that even if people spoke to him, he wouldn't answer. That obviously is one of the key qualities involved. That concentration of effort obviously then leads into successful management as well, I think. A second one is human qualities, humanities. However clever you may be, however brilliant you may be, if you don't have the passion, the feeling for what you want to do and what you want to achieve, then you won't be able to take others along with you and bring them into that process.

3rd Person:

That's really difficult to translate. It's not my field, philosophy. You know, Confucius. He told the people about twenty-five hundred years ago, "You shouldn't ask people to do the things you are not prepared to do yourself."

3rd Person:

Yes, that's it. You are not prepared to, you hate to be asked, or you can't do them.

Aspray:

Yes.

3rd Person:

Well, Jesus Christ said the same thing, and you should know the Bible! [Laughter].

Trans.:

Love thy neighbor!

3rd Person:

So in other words, one of his basic management philosophies is motivation, concentration, kindness to your subordinate, and be considerate.

Trans.:

You can't force people and push them to the end; you have to allow them some sort of gap, for a way out, a sort of compassion.

Aspray:

Another question. Sony is known for its extraordinary pattern of innovation, just one new product after another over its history. Is there something about the organizational structure of the research and development units that enables this to happen?

3rd Person:

That's a hard question.

Trans.:

Basically Dr. Yoshida doesn't think that it's an organization factor. He was pointing out that, again, Ibuka-San hates the idea of an organization, that his philosophy has been that, if you impose a very strict organization on people, they will never do anything that exceeds or is outside of the organization. On the other hand, you also risk the fact that the organization controls the individual and determines what they will do. Basically he feels that he is sort of a product of that philosophy and that he has come through that philosophy too. So, in a sense, following from the previous question, there are perhaps three steps, if there is a process. The first is to understand exactly what the mission was from Mr. Ibuka. The second step was assembling the key team of people, of picking out those people that would be capable of fulfilling that mission. The third step was where the persuasion came in, of making sure they understood exactly what the mission was and how to fulfill it, and persuading them to go along and to take on the challenges.

One of the key points: if you have too much planning, then once you have established the plan you will never do it faster than that plan. So again, Ibuka-San is very strongly against the idea of systematization, and of very strongly, well-defined plans, because of that tendency that everyone conforms to the plan, and doesn't exceed the expectations. In Dr. Yoshida's own case, he wanted to bring into the research the PERT system, (Program Evaluation and Review Technique), whereby you have a number of different possible solutions to a certain problem ongoing, and establish the quickest route by rejecting those solutions that don't work and keeping those that do in a formal system. At first Mr. Ibuka was totally against the idea, was totally skeptical, and he wasn't sure about it, but kind of pushed it through.

3rd Person:

Those philosophies have to be taught at the Harvard Business School! [Laughter] Would you agree?

Trans.:

I don't know — as the case may be.

3rd Person:

Perhaps not the business school.

Aspray:

Yes. I have two last questions for you. Some people today think that modern technology comes from only two sources. Either it comes from military-developed technology that is brought into the commercial field, or in the case of Japan it's something that was paid for by MITI, and that's the reason it exists. Yet it seems to me that Sony is an excellent example of neither of those, of a different way of developing technology. Do you want to comment on this?

Trans.:

I think that the comment Dr. Yoshida would make about that was that the very area that Sony was in is consumer goods, consumer products. Therefore it's not really an area where MITI took much interest, and it doesn't have much connection with the military. In Sony's case the development of products was based on thinking about what people would want, what they would buy, what they wanted to have in their homes. That was the foundation for Sony.

Aspray:

So in a way you would say that Sony is a market-driven company, rather than a technology concern.

3rd Person:

Or driven by people.

Relationship of Sony and Aiwa

Aspray:

My last question. I feel that since we are here on the site of Aiwa that I should ask at least one question about them. I won't ask directly about the company because we don't have enough time to talk about its history and such, but the question is: Americans don't understand very well the business relationships between companies that are tied to one another, and Aiwa and Sony are at least sister companies, or son and father. Can you explain how they work together and what the relationships are?

3rd Person:

The relation between Sony and Aiwa. Aiwa is a sister company, and Sony has fifty-two percent of the interest. We at Aiwa try not to market the competing product, basically. There is some agreement. Also there is agreement that Aiwa can market or produce anything Sony develops, so Aiwa has a right to select their future products. That's one thing, you see. But Aiwa originally started from an audio equipment company, hi-fi and things like that. That we cannot give up, so there is some area where there has to be competition against the Sony product. Aiwa is now producing seventy-seven to seventy-eight percent of the product overseas in South Asia. In Singapore they have their R&D facilities, and they are doing their own R&D activities, manufacturing, marketing, design. So this is a truly global organization.

However, Aiwa and Sony have to be careful not to compete against each other. In some areas Aiwa is intending to do, like electronic signals for health-care or the communication world, the high-speed modem, which Sony doesn't produce but Aiwa does, and also everybody is now conscious about environmental issues. So those areas Aiwa wishes to get into. Dr. Yoshida also mentioned back-up machines. There is tape backup. For the computer disc you have a whole bunch of precious data, and if you have a head crash you are going to have a disaster. Aiwa has been developing the back-up tape machines. Another example, Aiwa started off with is called tele-video. It's a combination of a television set and video recorder. It's called tele-video, and it's combined in a single cabinet. We are well ahead of Sony, but now Sony is marketing the same product. Those things are unavoidable. So that's the kind of relations. Again, we are a sister company. In some areas we compete, and in some areas we don't, we help each other.

Aspray:

Do you share people?

3rd Person:

Yes.

Aspray:

Do you move people back and forth?

3rd Person:

Yes, we do.

Trans.:

Another example is viewing the idea of competition from the point of the Sony group. If a competitor has the second place market share in terms of the headphone stereo market, Sony has the top share, then Aiwa's goal would be to oust the competitor from that second place in order to improve the overall share of the Sony group within the market.

Aspray:

I see.

Trans.:

The same thing would be perhaps in mini-components, where Aiwa has the top share. Then Sony's goal would be the same thing. Not to oust Aiwa, but to oust competing groups' companies in order to broaden the share for the group as a whole.

Aspray:

I see. I think I could ask questions for many more hours, but we should probably stop at this point. Thank you very much.