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Karaoke inventor Shigeichi Negishi dies at 100

By Maria Julianne Makinano Published Mar 17, 2024 1:03 pm

The man behind one of Filipinos' beloved items has passed away.

Shigeichi Negishi, the inventor of the world’s first commercially-available karaoke machine, died at the age of 100.

Wall Street Journal reported that Negishi's daughter Atsumi Takano confirmed that her father died of natural causes last Jan. 26. 

He was the man behind the “Sparko Box,” which was recognized by the All-Japan Karaoke Industrialist Association as the earliest karaoke machine. 

WSJ reported that Negishi was “the first among five Japanese inventors who independently created karaoke machines from 1967 to 1971.”

He was working at an electronic company in 1967 when he came up with the idea after a tease about his singing skills occurred between him and his colleague. 

Shigeichi thought that singing with a backing track accompanying him would make him sound better. 

Before then, backing tracks for karaoke activities were provided by live bands.

Shigeichi first came up with a prototype by hooking up a speaker, microphone, and tape deck that played an instrumental version together.

“Karaoke” was the first name he proposed to his distributor but it was rejected as it sounds similar to kanoke, which means “coffin” in Japanese.

He then decided to name it “Sparko Box” and started selling to multiple establishments in Japan such as restaurants and bars. 

In 1975, he stopped selling the product as the business faced problems. 

An estimation of around 8,000 units of “Sparko Box” were sold and reports say that his family is the only one who has a functioning “Sparko Box” today. 

The Japanese inventor never patented the “Sparko Box” and most people looked at musician Daisuke Inoue as the inventor of the karaoke machine, as he also independently created his own version of it in 1971.