World News 16 Mart 2024

Karaoke inventor dies aged 100

The inventor of karaoke, Shigeichi Negishi, has died at the age of 100.

The Tokyo-based entrepreneur was the first person to automate and commercialise karaoke in 1967 when his ‘Sparko Box’ went on sale.

Author Matt Alt, who interviewed the entrepreneur in 2018 for his book Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World wrote Mr Negishi’s obituary in The Wall Street Journal, published on Thursday.

He also shared photos of the legendary inventor on his X account.

Mr Negishi died on 26 January after a fall, his daughter Atsumi Takano told Mr Alt.

Karaoke came to Mr Negishi through an “epiphany”, Mr Alt wrote, when an engineer at an electronics company he ran in 1967 heard him singing to himself and told him he wasn’t very good.

Mr Negishi, 43 at the time, told the employee to “give me a break,” before thinking: “If only they could hear my voice over a backing track!”

And while the invention of karaoke has widely been credited to Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue, who released the ‘8 Juke’ box in 1971, it was in fact Mr Negeshi’s Sparko Box that marked the first singalong machine known to man four years prior.

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It is recognised as the earliest by the All-Japan Karaoke Industrialist Association, the country’s largest organisation of karaoke manufacturers and retailers, according to Mr Alt.

Mr Negishi created some 8,000 Sparko Boxes and placed them at establishments throughout Japan, but his venture was rather short-lived as he “grew tired of the conflict with musicians and the grind of door-to-door sales and maintenance,” Mr Alt said.

He left the karaoke business entirely in 1975 and his innovative Sparko Box soon gave way to similar iterations. Now, according to Mr Alt, only one remains, and is kept by Mr Negishi’s family as a momento.

Mr Negishi, who has three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, never patented his creation.

His daughter told Mr Alt: “Truly, the patent never bothered him.

“He felt a lot of pride in seeing his idea evolve into a culture of having fun through song around the world. To him, spending a hundred years surrounded by his family was reward enough.”

source

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