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Mr Betamax is dead

First European in top Japanese company
Fri May 16 2008, 06:17

THE SONY BOSS who doubled the size of the outfit's US operation, despite championing the failed Betamax video recording system, has died aged 80.

Harvey Schein, was one of the first 'Europeans' to be a top name in a big Japanese company.

He was recruited by Akio Morita, the visionary co-founder of Sony, who believed that Sony's American subsidiary needed an American chap in charge.

Schein led Sony America from 1972 to 1978. He was famous for being highly successful while his rule was stormy. The fact that his management style was described as 'abrasive' and 'colourful' might have had something to do with this.

In 1976, Sony released Betamax, a video cassette recording system superior in almost every way to VHS. While this failed Schein was involved with a legal battle that ended up allowing people to make home recordings of television shows and sparked the home video boom.

According to the New York Times, Schein increased Sony’s annual sales to $750 million from $300 million.

However he was often at war with Tokyo which didn’t like him chasing a fast buck in favour of more longer-term thinking.

After leaving Sony he went to Warner Communications and then became president of the Polygram. µ

NY Times


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