History will tell you that the first successful Sony product was the Type G tape recorder, a hulking behemoth of metal and tape that took the world by storm. But up the back of the Sony Archives museum in Tokyo, another product showed itself as a success for the company before they even took the Sony name: an electric cushion.
Back in 1946, as Japan was moving to the “new yen” currency, Japan was apparently going through a rather tough economic time. So in order to keep their employees happy and employed, they had to find a way to earn the new currency. They did it by creating the electric cushion – a tine nichrome wire stuck between two sheets of reinforced paper inside a leather and cloth cushion.
But not only did they make the wire that went inside the cushion, they subcontracted employees families to sew the covers together in order to keep them paid.
The cushions were hugely successful, if you believe the Sony Archives, but at the time the company obviously had little faith in them, as they sold the product under a fake company name, Ginza Nessuru Shokai, or Ginza heating company.
Nick travelled to Tokyo courtesy of Sony, who saw fit to invite him to the Sony Archives, a museum dedicated to Sony’s history.