Father of the CD

Norio Ohga, former Sony chairman and multimedia pioneer, dies at 81

By Sean Hollister  posted Apr 23rd 2011 12:53PM

There's more sad news out of Japan this morning, we're afraid -- Sony is reporting that former chairman Norio Ohga passed away in Tokyo yesterday from multiple organ failure. He was 81. You may not personally remember a Sony under his reign -- Ohga directly helmed the company from 1982 to 1995 after decades of service in product planning -- but Norio Ohga was arguably the man responsible for turning Sony from a high-profile analog electronics manufacturer into a digital multimedia conglomerate. He helmed the deals that formed Sony Music, paved the way for Sony Pictures and established the very same Sony Computer Entertainment that would birth the PlayStation, and it was he who pushed the optical compact disc standard that all but replaced the magnetic cassettes and diskettes that held portable media. Without him, DVDs and Blu-rays might have fallen by the wayside, and that's another thought that brings tears to our eyes. You'll find Ohga's official obituary after the break.


Passing of Norio Ohga, Senior Advisor and former President and Chairman, Sony Corporation

Tokyo, Japan -- It is with great sadness that Sony Corporation today announced the loss of Norio Ohga, Senior Advisor and former President and Chairman, Sony Corporation. Mr. Ohga passed away at 9:14 AM on April 23, 2011 in Tokyo. The cause of death was multiple organ failure. He was 81 years old. A private wake will be held among family and close relatives, and a company service will take place at a later date.

Commenting on today's loss, Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman, CEO and President, Sony Corporation said, "When I first joined Sony in 1997, Ohga-san was serving on the frontlines of Sony management as Chairman and CEO. His numerous and successful endeavors were well-known both inside and outside of Sony. Witnessing Ohga-san's leadership firsthand was truly an honor, and one I continued to enjoy and benefit from in countless ways in the years that followed. 

By redefining Sony as a company encompassing both hardware and software, Ohga-san succeeded where other Japanese companies failed. 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.

I offer my deepest condolences on his passing and pray that he may rest in peace."

Pivotal Contribution to Sony's Product Philosophy and Brand Image

Mr. Ohga was a student at the Faculty of Music of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (now Tokyo University of the Arts) when he first met Sony founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. Sony's founders immediately sensed in Mr. Ohga the makings of a leader, and someone whose expert knowledge of sound and electrical engineering would benefit the company greatly. Therefore, in 1953, while still a student, Mr. Ohga was appointed a consultant and advisor to Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation (now Sony Corporation) before fully entering the Company in 1959.

After joining Sony, Mr. Ohga worked tirelessly to enhance product quality, functionality and design, while also revolutionizing the Company's marketing and advertising initiatives, paving the way for the launch of a succession of innovative and game-changing products. Mr. Ohga passionately advocated the creation of products that would be "attractive in the eyes of consumers", a philosophy that came to represent the principles of Sony's approach to design and engineering, and was key to the Company's worldwide success and growth.

Mr. Ohga, together with Mr. Morita, shared a deep understanding of the importance of brand management, and together they took every opportunity to remind employees to think first and act later, emphasizing that every one of their decisions had an impact on the Sony brand. One of Mr. Ohga's favorite expressions was, "The four letters of the 'SONY' brand are our greatest asset." His efforts to spread the spirit of that message among every Sony employee were critical to enabling Sony to become the globally recognized brand it is today.

Optical Disc Development Leading to Creation of New Markets

Mr. Ohga was also a man of vision and foresight. Anticipating the future potential of compact optical disc formats, he personally drove Sony's initiatives to explore this new frontier. During the development of the CD, it was Mr. Ohga's instincts as a trained musician that led him to push for a 12 centimeter format, providing sufficient recording capacity at 75 minutes to enable listeners to enjoy all of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony without interruption. These negotiations resulted in the CD specifications still in use today. After Sony commercialized the world's first CD in 1982, sales grew rapidly, and by 1987, CDs had overtaken LP record sales in Japan, changing the way people listened to music. Mr. Ohga's efforts to establish the CD format also contributed to the launch of subsequent optical disc formats such as the MD, CD-ROM and the DVD, which not only revolutionized the consumer electronics and music recording industries, but also other areas of technology, such as computer memory and game software.

"Hardware and software are two wheels on a car"

Driven by his philosophy that "hardware and software are two wheels on a car", Mr. Ohga also led Sony's negotiations with CBS Corp, resulting in the establishment of CBS/Sony Records Inc. (now Sony Music Entertainment Inc.) in 1968. Taking an entirely new approach to record label management, which included the record company identifying and nurturing new artists itself, Mr. Ohga successfully grew CBS/Sony into a market leader that by 1978 - only ten years after its establishment - led the industry in both annual sales and profit.

Mr. Ohga continued to push the boundaries of Sony's content strategy, venturing beyond music into motion pictures, with the purchase of Columbia Pictures in 1989. With this acquisition, the foundations for Sony's evolution into a comprehensive entertainment company were now firmly in place.

Mr. Ohga also presided over the launch of Sony's game business. The establishment of Sony Computer Entertainment in 1993 and subsequent worldwide success of "PlayStation" quickly secured Sony's position at the forefront of this industry. 

Contribution to Domestic and Global Economic Development

Mr. Ohga was also actively involved in a number of industrial and commercial organizations, promoting both domestic Japanese and global economic development. As Chairman of the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), he helped to bring discussions surrounding the decade-long U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Trade Agreement of 1986 to an amicable conclusion in 1996. In 1998 he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), where he served as Chairman of the Committee on Administrative Reform, and later as Chairman of the Committee on New Business Development, contributing to Japan's economic development. Furthermore, as Vice Chairman of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry he not only led initiatives to stimulate Japanese industrial development and local economic growth, but also sought to redefine the Chamber's role by promoting closer cooperation between large and mid-to-small-sized corporations, and by providing a forum to oversee the creation and development of new industries.

Throughout his career, Mr. Ohga also remained true to his calling as a trained musician, tirelessly devoting his energy to providing a solid financial base for the struggling classical music industry in Japan. He rescued the Japan Music Art Promotion (JMARP) institution which was facing the threat of closure, and was subsequently appointed Director. The organization was renamed Sony Music Foundation, and embarked on a range of new initiatives, including assisting the development of aspiring young musicians, and supporting various concerts and musical events to promote the growth of classical music as an art form.

Mr. Ohga received national recognition in 1988 when he was presented with the Japanese Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon, and in 2001 when he was presented with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Nations around the world have also recognized Mr. Ohga's achievements, with France presenting him the country's highest decoration - the Legion of Honour - and Germany, Italy and Austria also bestowing Mr. Ohga with national awards of honor.

Associated Press


Living with Nature

1. Life would be perfect if anger had mute button, mistake had back button, hard times had fast forward button and good times had pause button.
2. Difference between Einstein and Karunanidhi is that Einstein believed everything is relative while Karunanidhi believes relatives are everything.
3. A bird asked a Bee 'you work so hard to make honey and people steal, don't you feel bad?  Bee said 'I don't feel bad as they can never steal my art of making honey'.
4. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
5. Tongue weighs practically nothing, but only few people can hold it.
6. The happiness of our life depends upon the quality of our thoughts but quality of our thought depends on the people we have in our life.
7. We get lot of unconditional love when we are born and lots of unconditional respect when we die. We just have to manage the time in between.

Do you agree that we have 26 alphabets in English, as given below?
With each alphabet getting a number, in chronological order, as above, study the following, and bring down the total to a single digit and see the result yourself 

S  h  r  e  e   K  r  i  s  h  n  a
M u s l i m
M  o  h  a  m  m  e  d

M a  h a v  i  r

G  u  r  u   N  a  n  a  k

Z  a  r  a  t  h  u  s  t  r a

G  a   u  t  a  m

E  s   a  M  e  s  s  i   a  h
Each one ends with number 9


Still-living plants can themselves be shaped into bridges, tables, ladders, chairs, sculptures - even buildings. Known variously as botanical architecture, tree sculpture, tree-shaping, tree-grafting, pooktre, arborsculpture, and arbortecture, the craft is, essentially, construction with living plants.
Includes pictures from the root bridges of India to living islands!
1. Root Bridges of India 
In the depths of northeastern India, in one of the wettest places on earth, bridges aren't built -- they're grown. 

(images credit: Vanlal Tochhawng)
Grown from the roots of a rubber tree, the Khasis people of Cherapunjee use betel-tree trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create "root-guidance systems." When they reach the other side of the river, they're allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time a sturdy, living bridge is produced. 

The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they're extraordinarily strong. Some can support the weight of 50 or more people at once. 

One of the most unique root structures of Cherrapunjee is known as the "Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge." It consists of two bridges stacked one over the other!

(images credit: Marcus Fornell, Jim Ratcliffe)

Because the bridges are alive and still growing, they actually gain strength over time, and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunjee may be well over 500 years old. 
(image credit: Marcus Fornell)

But these are not the only bridges built from growing plants. Japan too, has its own form of living bridges. 

2. The Vine Bridges of Iya Valley 

One of Japan's three "hidden" valleys, West Iya is home to the kind of misty gorges, clear rivers, and thatched roofs one imagines in the Japan of centuries ago. To get across the Iya River that runs through the rough valley terrain, bandits, warriors and refugees created a very special - if slightly unsteady - bridge made of vines. 

This is a picture from the 1880s of one of the original vine bridges. 

First, two Wisteria vines -- one of the strongest vines known -- were grown to extraordinary lengths from either side of the river. Once the vines had reached a sufficient length they were woven together with planking to create a pliable, durable and, most importantly, living piece of botanical engineering.

The bridges had no sides, and a Japanese historical source relates that the original vine bridges were so unstable, those attempting to cross them for the first time would often freeze in place, unable to go any farther. 

Three of those vine bridges remain in Iya Valley. While some (though apparently not all) of the bridges have been reinforced with wire and side rails, they are still harrowing to cross. More than 140 feet long, with planks set six to eight inches apart and a drop of four-and-a-half stories down to the water, they are not for acrophobes. 

Some people believe the existing vine bridges were first grown in the 12th century, which would make them some of the oldest known examples of living architecture in the world. But there is one ancient group of peoples who took the concept to an entirely new level. 

3. The Living Islands of the Uros People 

The Uros peoples' lives revolve around reeds. They make reed houses, reed boats, reed flower tea, and use reeds as medicine. 

(image credit: Benjamin)

But most amazingly, the Uros build entire islands out of those very same reeds. It is the fact that these islands are alive that makes them work. The dense root structures of the living reed masses keeps the whole island together and floating on the lake. 

(images via 1, 2 )

As reeds disintegrate from the bottom of the islands, which are four to eight feet thick, residents must add more to the surface. The entire island moves slightly with the water, similar to the feeling of laying on a waterbed. The Uros, however, have gotten quite used to it, as have the cats, fowl and other animals that live on these floating islands. 

The Uros have been living on these floating islands since the 1500s when they were forced to take up residence on Lake Titicaca after the Incas expanded into their territory. While many of the islands are moored to the lakebed, they can be moved if necessary. One of the main advantages to living on a floating island is that when the enemy comes too close, you can just float the other way. 

Even tiny outhouse islands have been created, in which the living roots help absorb the waste. 

Today, in the shadow of the Andes, on the world’s highest navigable lake, hundreds of Uros (or descendants of the Uros, depending on how you define them) live on these floating islands and make their living from fishing and selling their reed handicrafts to tourists. 

4. "Espalier" Art Form
Another more common form of tree shaping is known as espalier - the process of creating three-dimensional forms out of trees. A popular practice in Medieval times, the craft likely dates back to ancient Egypt. Espalier can be used to make ornamental trees, increase the yield of a fruit tree, or build a sturdy fence or wall from growing trees. 
On Pacific Street in Pacific Heights, San Francisco:
(image credit: David Pham, ShapeShift.net)
One of the more famous examples of espalier can be seen at the Cloisters in Manhattan, New York:

(A Living Menorah in Illinois, Allerton Park - image via)

Of course, not all living architecture is about building or shaping things out of trees. Sometimes it makes sense to build things inside of them... 

5. The Chapel Oak 

Like something out of a fairy tale (or Keebler Elves commercial) the hollowed trunk of this ancient oak tree is home to two small chapels, reached by a spiral staircase winding up the trunk. 

In the early 1660s, a 470-year-old oak tree in Allouville-Bellefosse, France, was struck and hollowed by a lighting strike. Not only did the tree survive this attack, but it came to the attention of Abbot Du Détroit and Father Du Cerceau. In 1669 they began building a shrine to the Virgin Mary directly inside the tree itself. Later, a staircase climbing the outside of the tree was built and another chapel was added on a "second floor" of the tree. 
(image via)
Things almost took a very bad turn for the tree during the French Revolution when a mob stormed the tree and threatened to burn down this symbol of the abhorred Church. A quick-thinking local renamed the oak the "Temple of Reason," sparing it a fiery fate. 

Here we enter what could be called the modern period of botanical architecture. It begins in Wisconsin, with a banker named John Krubsack. 
6. The Chair That Grew 
One day in 1903, a friend of Krubsack’s openly admired a beechwood chair he had crafted. A man who perhaps didn't know how to take a compliment, Krubsack announced, "Dammit, one of these days I am going to grow a piece of furniture that will be better and stronger than any human hands can build." Fifteen years later, he had done just that, with every joint in his chair "cemented by nature". 

Though many handsome offers were made for the famous chair, Krubsack refused to sell, eventually leaving it to his nephew to be displayed in his furniture store. The "Chair That Grew" was last seen at the entrance of Noritage Furniture, owned by Krubsack’s descendants. The store recently closed and the fate of the chair is unknown, but it likely still resides somewhere in the tiny town of Embarrass, WI, not far from where it grew nearly 100 years ago. 

7. The Circus Trees of Axel Erlandson 
Where Krubsack was a pioneer, Axel Erlandson was a visionary -- though he didn't know it at the time. Axel Erlandson never intended to create a new genre of sculpture or become the father of an art movement. He just wanted to entertain his family. 

A farmer in California, Erlandson had noticed the curious ability of trees to naturally graft themselves together. So, in 1925 Erlandson began planning a series of trees that were deliberately grafted together for artistic effect. His first creation was the "Four Legged Giant," four trees which he merged into a single truck, creating a kind of tree-gazebo. 

In 1945, twenty years after Erlandson had begun his hobby, his daughter suggested to her father that he might open some kind of "Tree Circus" to showcase his unusual arbor creations. Erlandson did just that, creating over 70 unique arborsculptures in his Tree Circus. Among his creations were a tree that split into a cube, an arch tree and a six-tree woven basket. 

(images credit: Arborsmith.com)
The Tree Circus was a not much of a financial success, and in 1963 Erlandson sold the property, trees and all, and died shortly thereafter. It wasn't long before all 70 trees were forgotten and by 1977 only forty of the unique specimens remained. These were all scheduled to be bulldozed to create a mall. 

Luckily for the trees, and for the world, they were saved from this fate by Michael Bonfante, owner of Nob Hill Foods. Bonfante, a horticultural connoisseur, opened a theme park and in 1985 relocated the trees to what is now known as Gilroy Gardens. 

Today, 25 of Axel Erlandson's arborsculptural creations are on display at Gilroy Gardens, and his first creation, the Four Legged Giant remains alive and well some 80 years after Erlandson’s idea first took root.

8. The Auerworld Palace 
Many of these marvels are the works of one dedicated person, but the mysterious Auerworld Palace took some 300 volunteers to create. Architect Marcel Kalberer and his group, Sanfte Strukturen, are re-envisioning the way living building materials and techniques can be used to design modern spaces - with willows. 

(images credit: SanfteStrukturen, via)
Constructed in 1998, the Auerworld Palace in Aeurstedt, Germany may be the first modern "willow palace," but the techniques Kalberer uses are ancient. Sumerian reed houses were famous for their construction of tightly bound reeds. 

(other structures by Sanfte Strukturen)

But where Kalberer and his team create buildings out of trees, Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser has created a building inspired by, and incorporating, trees.
9. Waldspirale, or Forest Spiral 

Hundertwasser wasn’t much fond of straight lines, dubbing them "the devil's tools." In fact, his famous apartment building, Waldspirale, does away with them entirely and is instead a celebration of nature’s sinuous loops and arcs. Located in Darmstadt, Germany, Waldspirale translates to "wooded spiral," and that is exactly what it is. It hosts as many trees as human occupants.

(images via 1, 2)

10. Modern Organic Forms 

Today a growing number of tree grafters, arborsculptors and botanical architects are working to create new organic forms. Among them is Richard Reames who coined the terms arborsculpture and arbortecture (he also has a book on the subject, order it here). 

Richard grows and shapes tree trunks using the ancient arts of grafting, framing, bending and pruning. He believes that his living arborsculptures could one day replace many of the things that trees are typically killed to make. 

(images credit: Richard Reames)

Another absolutely wonderful tree grafter who has been working since before the form even had a name is Dan Ladd. Ladd crafts trees into whimsical shapes, and incorporates other objects into the trees. 

(images credit: Dan Ladd)

Ladd also practices the ancient art of gourd shaping. These are all gourds that were growing inside of forms. They have not been carved or altered after they were harvested. 

(images credit: Dan Ladd)

Tree grafters Peter Cook and his wife Becky Northey have developed a range of their own special tree-shaping techniques, which they call pooktre. 
(image credit: Peter Cook)

Among the many other artists working in the form are Konstantin Kirsch, Laura Spector, and Aharon Naveh.

(images credit: Aharon Naveh)

(staircases by Laura Spector)

Contemporary Warm And Cosy House

Here is an awesome mountain home that probably a lot of us could wish to own. On outside it looks like other neighboring buildings but the interior is contemporary and at the same time warm and cosy. The facade is done in wood and stone. The interior also features a lot of wood elements that probably make the space so cosy. Stairs, support beams, floors and some furniture are all done in timber. The design of all these things isn’t so rustic as in many other similar mountains homes but thanks to that the interior is so contemporary.