21 October 2015


Companies and their trademarks and brands often have interesting origin stories.

Back in 1954, the first transistor radio appeared on the market. The transisitor itself had been invented in 1947 at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. They were a huge adavnce because they were small. They were a way to amplify signals and replaced fragile vacuum tubes, which were slow to warm up, and unreliable. 

They did not have an immediate impact on most because transistors had limited use for everyday consumers. They did have a big impact on military technology, telephone switching equipment, and hearing aids.

Bell Labs licensed the technology and the first company to market a transistor radio was Texas Instruments, But they did not pursue the market after that.

TR-55 Sony's first transistor radio - 1955

A Japanese company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo decided to make transistor radios their main enterprise. Their name was considered too difficult for the intended American audience to pronounce, so they decided to rebrand themselves with something simpler.

They looked up the Latin word for sound, which was sonus which reminded them of the English slang that was used in Japan to label exceptionally bright, promising boys - "sonny boys" - and settled on Sony as their new name.

Soon transistor radios were cheap and were snapped up by consumers, including a very lucrative and apprciative teenage audience. The transistor radio was the device to own in the late 1950s and 60s for a teen. It probably did a lot to move forward American rock and roll.

Sony went on to introduce a long line of milestone products including TVs, the VCR, Walkman, CD players and camcorders.

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