Sony was started in the aftermath of World War II, during the rapid reconstruction of Japan that gave birth to its world-leading electronics industry. The company originally had a Japanese name, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (TKT), but the founder changed this feeling that a short, catchy name using the Western alphabet would work better if the company wanted international success (this was a rare practice at the time, and was considered a controversial practice in Japan).
The company immediately started innovating, building Japan’s first tape players and the first successful transistor radios in the world – they specialised in taking American inventions and making them smaller and better, and then exporting them all over the world. As Sony made transistor radios smaller and smaller until they were easily portable, sales boomed, all the way through to the end of the ‘50s. This got Sony enough money to invest heavily in diversifying and building more and more new products, and the rest is history.
Since then, Sony has had many notable products: the Walkman and Discman portable music players, the Minidisc music format, the Playstation video game consoles and even a robotic pet dog, AIBO. Today, Sony is a giant not only in electronics, but also in entertainment, with a movie studio (Sony Pictures), a record label (Sony Music), a video game division (Sony Computer Entertainment) and far more besides. Overall, the Sony Group of companies is one of the largest in Japan, and is also up there with the biggest companies in the world.
Sony moved into laptops with the VAIO brand in 1997, and again found instant success. Originally, VAIO was a brand of desktop and laptop computers, but Sony stopped making the desktop models after the laptops became a runaway success. They built a reputation for high-quality components, good bundled software, low weight and long battery life, making it the laptop of choice among many high-end Windows users.