Digital Pioneer Who Established Sony Computer Entertainment Dies At 81

Norio Ohga, the former chairman of Sony who, in 1993, established Sony Computer Entertainment and paved the way for the PlayStation, died Saturday morning in Tokyo. He was 81.

Ohga's digital media vision had far reaching impact, not just for his company but for all electronics manufacturers. In video games, Sony and Nintendo had been cooperating on a prototype games console employing a CD-ROM drive. When Nintendo broke off the partnership and enlisted another manufacturer, an enraged Ohga vowed Sony would continue to develop the console. "We will never withdraw from this business," he declared. Thus, the PlayStation and Sony Computer Entertainment were born.

As an innovator, Ohga was perhaps most widely known for his influence on the development of the compact disc, including its 11-centimeter specification and the 75-minute runtime, which Ohga required so that listeners could enjoy all of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, without interruption.

"It is no exaggeration to attribute Sony's evolution beyond audio and video products into music, movies and game, and subsequent transformation into a global entertainment leader to Ohga-san's foresight and vision," Sony Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Stringer said Saturday in a statement released by Sony.

A trained musician, Ohga is credited with rescuing a Japanese classical music foundation that later became the Sony Music Foundation. He was recognized with awards by the governments of Japan, Germany, Italy, Austria, France and other nations.