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Shigeichi Negishi, inventor of first karaoke machine, passes away

by Gaby Agbulos

AFTER living a long, fruitful life, the inventor of the first-ever commercially available karaoke machine has passed away.

At 100 years old, Shigeichi Negishi died last January 26 due to natural causes after suffering from a fall, his daughter Atsumi Takano said in a report by the Wall Street Journal. 

Born on November 29, 1923, in Tokyo, Japan, Negishi was already an extremely accomplished individual, winning awards at school and then later on becoming a part of the Japanese Army during World War II. He even became a prisoner of war at the time.

He was the head of an electronics company and was in his 40s when he first came up with the idea for his karaoke machine, the Sparko Box. 

The idea came to him when his colleague told him that he had a terrible singing voice, and he wondered what he’d sound like if he had a backing track to go with his so-called terrible singing. It was then released in 1967 and has continued to develop since then.

The popularity of karaoke only continued to grow stronger and stronger over the years. 

Filipinos’ love for karaoke

In the Philippines, no gathering is complete without a karaoke machine. 

It helps bring people closer together; it’s what you hear late at night when your neighbor has their friends or family over for a reunion, it’s what you do while you drink with people you’re getting to know, it’s how you release any pent up emotions you may have bubbling up inside you. 

Many Filipinos even have their go-to karaoke song! Surely you’ve heard a drunk tita sing “I Will Always Love You,” while clutching a glass of wine, or your rowdy titos laughing as they wrestle over the mic as they perform a group rendition of “Macho Gwapito.” 

In Japanese, the word “karaoke” is a mixture of the words “empty” and “orchestra,” and it is through the people that use it that this orchestra is brought to life.

While you may not have known Negishi personally, he is still the one to thank for all those moments of bonding, all those happy memories that you have created with the people most important to you. 

Negishi’s legacy will continue to live on in each song that people sing with his revolutionary machine.



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