Norio Ohga, an opera singer who went on to spearhead development of the compact disc as the chairman and chief executive of the Sony Corporation, died on Saturday at the age of 81. Though Sony did not invent the technology of compact discs, Ohga worked closely with Sony engineers on the product and introduced CDs to the marketplace in 1982. Upon Ohga’s insistence, early CDs had a capacity of 75 minutes so that listeners could listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in its entirety without interruption.
Ohga’s emphasis on attractive design for electronic devices and strong belief that electronic hardware and entertainment software should be economically linked was ahead of its time, anticipating Apple’s rise to dominate the digital media market in the past decade.
In his time at Sony, Ohga was also responsible for the development of the Sony PlayStation video game system, and the expansion of the company’s line of Walkman portable devices.