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‘It’s a Sony’ Exhibit Shows off Years of Japanese Design

An exhibit at Sony’s headquarters gives a glimpse into the company’s history.


The Sony Building in Ginza, Tokyo is soon to be demolished. To celebrate the company’s 70th anniversary, they are taking down their iconic building in order to build a park which they hope will become a new Tokyo landmark. Until the demolition, which is slated for next year, the building will be hosting an exhibition called “It’s a Sony”, which showcases many of Sony’s products through the years, from the company’s beginnings until the modern era.

The exhibition, which opened earlier this month, will run until February of next year, and was inaugurated with a speech by Sony’s CEO Kazuo Hirai. The Verge’s Sam Byford has been there to document the range of products. Among the products showcased are the Qualia range of speakers. Pictured below is the Qualia 007 speaker system released in 2003, designed to “recreate the satisfaction of listening to live performances.”


In 2004, Sony released Librie (below), the world’s first e-reader with an e-ink display. It predates Amazon’s Kindle by three years. However, with the retail giant’s already large repository of book, Sony’s reader disappeared from the public eye.


Among the more novel products on display is QRIO, Sony’s 2003 robot companion which could sing and dance to original music. “In addition to its ability to not fall over, it is equipped with technologies to respond to when it does actually fall over,” says Sony. In many ways, the robot can be seen as a precursor to Honda’s ASIMO.


The exhibition also features the XEL-1, the world’s first OLED television. The XEL-1 premiered in 2007, and had a price tag of $2,500 for its 11-inch screen. These days, a 12-inch OLED in a Samsung tablet will set you back a fifth of that price.


Another noteworthy product on display is the world’s first 3.5-inch floppy disk, premiered by Sony in 1980. The last of these disks were produced in 2010, and while us older kids have fond memories of sliding them into the A: drive, the younger generation probably only recognize them as “that picture on the save icon”.


You can see more of the cool gadgets on display in Byford’s column, Tokyo Thrift.

source/images: The Verge

David F.
A grad student in experimental physics, David is fascinated by science, space and technology. When not buried in lecture books, he enjoys movies, gaming and mountainbiking

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