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Sony chairman credited w/ developing CDs dies

April 23, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Former Sony president Norio Ohga died Saturday in Tokyo of multiple organ failure. He was 81.

Ohga was a music lover and insisted that CDs have a diameter of 4.8 inches, because that could hold 75 minutes of music, which is the length of Beethoven's ninth symphony.

From the start, Ohga recognized the potential of the CD's superior sound quality. In the 1970s, when Ohga insisted CDs would eventually replace record albums, skeptics scoffed. Herbert von Karajan, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock spoke up in defense of Sony's digital sound.

Sony sold the world's first CD in 1982 and CDs overtook LP record sales in Japan five years later. The specifications are still used today and fostered the devices developed since.

Ohga also headed Sony's expansion from electronics into software and entertainment. He was the company's president and chairman from 1982 to 1995.

The company currently owns Columbia pictures, a music-recording business, and PlayStation.

Ohga is survived by his wife, Midori. Sony said a private wake will be held later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.