Sony’s first product can be best described as a pretty crappy rice cooker. When we say crappy, we mean crappy. Just think of a rice cooker from the 99 cent store, and then make it look ugly and even cheaper, and you pretty well have Sony’s first product. So why and how did such a powerhouse of an electronics company develop such a defective piece of household electrical equipment.
So today we are well and truly aware that most cheap electronics, and just about everything else is manufactured in China. When quality control standards are in place, they can produce fantastic items, built to last. But when there is a distinct lack of that control the production quality can be pretty awful, as any Ebay purchaser would be aware of. On the flip side of things, today Japan is known as the manufacturer of high end, high quality and technologically advanced electronics. But it wasn’t all that long ago when Japan itself was in a similar situation to what China is today. At one point, anything made in Japan was almost assured to be faulty or flimsy. The term “Jap crap” was often used. It was in this early phase of the post was electronics boom in Japan that Sony made their first blunder.
Just after the end of WWII a lot of war factories in Japan were closing down. These mass closures provided an excess of electricity, which was also cheap. To top it off, just about every home was connected to the grid, but didn’t have any appliances to plug into it. The founder of Sony, Masaru Ibuka, had a desire to produce electrical items that could be used for everyday life because of the cheap abundance of electricity. Enter the rice cooker.
What can I say about Sony’s first product that ended up being such a disaster. It was ugly, and unreliable. It was a simple wooden bucket with an aluminium electrode stuck onto the bottom. The user had no way of regulating the control, or even the time. In most cases, the rice was either overcooked or undercooked, leaving an inedible mush of hard pellets.
Because of this, the Tokyo Telecommunications Research Institute, Sony’s name at the time, never placed the product on the retail market. It now sits on display at the Sony Archives in Shinagawa.