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TOKYO (AP) — Opera singer Norio Ohga complained about the quality of Sony tape recorders before he was hired by the company, developed the compact disc and championed its superior sound. Love of music steered the former Sony chairman's career and in turn, he transformed the Japanese electronics maker into a global software and entertainment empire.
The company president and chairman from 1982 to 1995, Ohga died Saturday in Tokyo of multiple organ failure, Sony said. He was 81.
The flamboyant music connoisseur steered his work through his love of music. A former opera singer, Ohga insisted the CD be designed at 12 centimeters (4.8 inches) in diameter — or 75 minutes worth of music — to store Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in its entirety.
From the start, Ohga recognized the potential of the CD's superior sound quality. In the 1970s, when Ohga insisted CDs would eventually replace record albums, skeptics scoffed. Herbert von Karajan, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock spoke up in defense of Sony's digital sound.
Sony sold the world's first CD in 1982 and CDs overtook LP record sales in Japan five years later. The specifications are still used today and fostered the devices developed since.