The Sony Corporation is a multinational media and electronics conglomerate based in Tokyo, Japan. Sony is best known for having created, among other things:
- The Trinitron line of TVs
- The PlayStation line of video game consoles
- The first mass-market VCR, with Betamax.
- The first portable music player, with the Walkman
- Compact Disc (with Philips)
- DVD (with Philips, Toshiba, and Panasonic)
- Blu-ray (with Apple Computer, Lenovo, Samsung, Microsoft, Acer, HP, Toshiba, and Panasonic)
Originally founded in 1946 under the name Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (the Sony name was invented as the name of a product line in the '50s, became the company's brand overseas at first and finally the name of the company itself by 1980) maker of numerous diverse electronic goods, prominently including televisions, stereos, PCs, and cell phones, and game consoles. They also do electronic components, industrial chemicals, batteries, toys, robots, banks, and life insurance. They also have their own animation studios (Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation, Adelaide Productions and A-1 Pictures), their own major record company with numerous labels and even their own Anime channel co-founded with Toei Animation, TMS and Sunrise, an anime streaming site called Daisukinote . One could almost say that, like one of their products, they only do everythingnote . Basically, even if you don't own Sony-manufactured electronics, you've likely watched Sony-produced movies (and/or owned them on tape or disc), listened to Sony-distributed music on your phone, and you've watched Sony-produced TV series, like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.
It is also the current owner of Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures as part of their Sony Pictures Entertainment division, which along with their record company (Sony Music, owner of Columbia Records and Epic Records) has led the company to switch sides in the intellectual-property war. Said record company, Sony Music, has the dubious distinction of being the only major record company to ship a rootkit (malignant software which takes over your computer) on a music CD, all in the name of the war on piracy. In 2017, Sony purchased a majority interest in North American anime dubbing and distribution company Funimation. They also have their own streaming service, Sony Crackle, as well as ownership stakes in several cable and digital broadcast channels (most notably GSN, which launched utilizing Sony's vast library of game shows.... which they rarely use now.)
It's worth noting that Sony Corporation per se only does the electronics and some financial shenanigans. Most of the fingers Sony sticks in other pies are technically independent corporations— Sony Interactive Entertainment (games), Sony Pictures Entertainment (motion pictures), Sony Music Entertainment (music), Sony Financial Holdings, etc. That's before getting into Sony Corporation of America, Sony de Mexico, etc... There are dozens of Sony corporations in total (Wikipedia has a full list). One upshot of this is that Sony has been known on more than one occasion to sue "itself" when conflicts arose between, for instance, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Corporation. Or take different sides of a political issue, such as during the SOPA fiasco, Sony Corporation, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Sony Music Entertainment were for it while Sony Computer Entertainment was against it.
Sony's also had a bad habit of creating storage formats that only they tend to actually use; the Betamax is the most infamous of these, but the MiniDisc, the PSP's UMD and the SD Card competitor MemoryStick have also been affected by the lack of non-Sony usage and interest. The MS format was perhaps the most prolific of these formats as Sony built MS slots into seemingly everything they made in the mid-2000s, including their Cybershot cameras and Handycam camcorders, VAIO PCs, TV sets, mobile devices (including their Clie PDAs and mylo web gadgets) and PlayStation game consoles. They've since admitted defeat and make SD Cards like everyone else.
Notable divisions and subsidiaries of the Sony Corporation (with articles on this wiki) include:
- Sony Interactive Entertainment (video games)
- Sony Music Entertainment (record labels)
- Sony Pictures Entertainment (film and television)