07 November 2016


Sony's first unbranded transistor radio - TR-55 (1955)

In the 1950s and 1960s, the transistor radio brought rock and roll music to teenagers and spread it more powerfully than the actual records that were being played by the disc jockeys.

Texas Instruments was the first company licensed by Bell Laboratories to use the newly invented transistor for a small radio. The term transistor was coined by John R. Pierce as a contraction of the term transresistance. The Regency TR-1 weighed 8 ounces, fit in your pocket, turned on instantly and cost $49.95. More than 100,000 were sold.

The Japanese company Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo decided to get into the transistor radio business but wanted a new name that would work with American consumers. They considered using their initials, TTK, but a railway company, Tokyo Kyuko, was known as TTK. They also considered  "Tokyo Teletech" but discovered an American company already using Teletech as a brand name.

Like many other people seeking a new name, they looked to Latin. Looking up "sound" they found "sonus." This sounded a bit like the word "sonny" which was a loan word used in Japan in the 1950s to refer to "sonny boys" - smart and presentable young men. Dropping one "n" in sonny and being closer to the sonus of sound seemed right.

The first Sony-branded product was the TR-55 transistor radio in 1955. The company officially changed their name to Sony in January 1958.

Sony 8-Transistor Radio, Model TR-84, 1959 

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