Products for Ordinary People

Once upon a time, way back in 1971, I believed that we were entering the tape audio age and declared that this year was the first year of tape. I also organized several symposiums on the subject. Speaking of tape makers, TDK was into Synchro Tape, and Maxell and Fuji had not yet become household names. Cassette tape recorders also were only being made by Sony, Aiwa, Matsushita, and Victor. Nevertheless, I firmly believed that the tape audio age was going to take off, centered on cassette tapes. At that time, my actions were greeted by solid opposition from within the company. It was, after all, the analog-centered age based on record players, and the idea of hi-fi through cassettes, which was greatly inferior in quality, was considered ridiculous. I can still remember vividly how the famous inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu strongly supported the symposiums and positioned himself at the center of the action.

The curtain suddenly rose on the cassette tape age when TDK launched its SD series with a striped package design in that year. Spurred by the emergence of this product, I renewed my determination to further promote the cassette audio age. Then in 1972, following the inauguration of Audio Senka (Audio Special Course), the predecessor of our magazine, I finally devoted my utmost effort to market creation. Naturally, this was also the golden age of analog audio. Although there was a constant maelstrom of comparisons, cassette tapes achieved growth because of their convenience and improved quality. My point here is that tape audio was user-friendly as far as ordinary people were concerned. And I myself was no more than an ordinary person.

On one occasion I received a cartridge, so immediately I dashed to a Koyo Denki store in Akihabara and purchased a micro shell. When I got back home, however, I had a really hard time trying to attach the cartridge to the shell. After some time I did manage the task, but I was uncertain whether it was attached properly or not. I remember thinking at the time, why on earth don't they make a cartridge and shell set from the start? If they did, then cartridge would become even more popular among ordinary people. Just as I had done for the "first year of tape," I carried my proposal for a shell-cartridge set in our magazine. Audio- technica agreed with my proposal, and its AT series became a big hit among ordinary people.

I was also puzzled by amplifiers. There are tuners and pre-main amplifiers and pre-amplifiers and power amplifiers. They all look the same, so I couldn't tell the difference between them. Because of this failure to distinguish them, I made some editorial howlers. Although I was supposed to be introducing amplifiers, the product turned out to be a tuner or a pre-amplifier. I could not excuse myself by saying that I was just an ordinary person. On the other side of the coin, however, I also realized that the mistakes were really only natural. It was from this experience that my proposal for system components emerged.

Today new digital products are leading the market. Looking at them, I recollect these incidents in the past with a touch of nostalgia. Products that ordinary people can enjoy-that must be a perpetual theme.