The Early Bird Catches The Worm

In 1964, Sony showed a transistorised electronic calculator at the New York World’s Fair.

In 1967, Sony marketed the device under the name Sobax – a mangled derivation from ‘solid-state abacus’.

The electronic calculator market became particularly brutal as loads of companies jumped in, transistor prices bombed and margins turned negative.

Akio Morita pulled Sony out of the electronic calculator business.

Later he regretted it.

‘Had we stayed with calculators we might have developed early expertise in digital technology for use in later personal computers,” said Morita.



  1. I still have my Casio fx201P calculator, bought sometime in 1976/7. Still works great and I use it quite often.

  2. Yes indeed AlanM, shades of the Horseless Carriage. Everything has to be defined in familiar terms..

  3. And how did they market these digital marvels?
    My Rockwell 44RD bought circa 1977 states on its label “ELECTRONIC SLIDE RULE CALCULATOR”
    (Shame I can’t post the scan of the label here).

  4. Yes indeed, grax, it’s the oldest story in the book – visionary founders get replaced by short-sighted profiteers who ruin the company.

  5. Adriano Olivetti was genius founding the company Olivetti who, far before cowboys, was producing first world computer.
    Following the italian tradition, after Olivetti (strage) death, the company was run by a group of robbers, now Olivetti (tries) to sell low cost chinese systems with low low marging, with year revenue of a ice-cream shop.

    Bull and Siemens, where leaders in their country in Computers.
    Siemens rushed to leave the Computer / Server market
    Bull pretend to still work in the domain, while the only think they can do is choosing the colour of the chassis of Intel powered server.

    Morita … no need for harakiri !!

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