Former Sony Chairman Norio Ohga Dies

The longtime company president oversaw the purchase of Columbia Pictures in 1989 and is credited with developing the CD format.

Norio Ohga, former CEO, president and chairman of Sony, died Saturday of mulitple organ failure. He was 81.

Ohga is credited with developing the compact disc and helping expand the company into an entertainment and software giant.

Ohga was president of Sony from 1982-1995, and oversaw the $3.4 billion purchase of Columbia Pictures in 1989.

Sony Corp. chairman Howard Stringer said Saturday, "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."

Ohga, a trained musician, was a consultant before officially joining Sony in 1959.

He led Sony's negotiations with CBS to establish CBS/Sony Records, now Sony Music Entertainment, in 1968. Ohga also presided over the launch of Sony's game business and the establishment of Sony Computer Entertainment in 1993.

Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton and co-chair Amy Pascal said in a joint statement, "Norio Ohga was a brilliant and innovative businessman whose visionary leadership had a profound impact on the way people experience entertainment throughout the world."

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