Another one hits the dust as the inventor of the first-ever karaoke machine passed away at the age of 100.

Did you know that the idea for karaoke came from a solo singing session by its own inventor, Shigeichi Negishi? Legend has it that while belting out a tune, a co-worker teased him about his singing prowess. Instead of shying away from the spotlight, Negishi had a brilliant idea: he needed a backing track to accompany his vocals. And so, the “Sparko Box” was born! Made from wires, a tape deck, and a microphone, it allowed people to sing along to instrumental versions of songs. The first track? Yoshio Kodama’s “Mujo no Yume,” the song that the inventor sang at work!

Photo from The Wall Street Journal

The Term “Karaoke”

After the successful creation of the instrumental-track machine, Shigeichi Negishi still had to decide on its name. Initially, he proposed the name “Karaoke” which were derived from the words “kara”, meaning empty, and “okesutora,” meaning orchestra; an empty orchestra machine. However, the proposal was denied by the creator’s distributor because it sounded too similar to the Japanese word “kanoke”, which when translated means coffin; and no one wants to buy a musical coffin, of course! So, Negishi and his ever-creative mind came to the name “Sparko Box” and began selling the machine around Japan in 1967. Though his creation never hit a patented status, the inventor was able to sell more than 8,000 boxes until he halted in 1975.

Photo from NPR

As the “Sparko Box” slowly left the stores of Japan, another man, named Daisuke Inoue, decided to keep the magic of the machine. However, this time it was named the “Juke 8” and soon enough changed to “Karaoke”, with the originating words “karappo” and “oke”, meaning void orchestra. The latest invention began hitting the Japanese market in 1971 when Inoue was invited to perform at a trade show.

Photo from The Wall Street Journal

Karaoke machines are everywhere these days. With instrumental covers readily available online, you’re not just singing for your audience – you’re also keeping the legacy of Negishi, the karaoke pioneer, alive and kicking. So, take that stage, test the mic, and sing to your heart’s content! While you’re at it, tell us your go-to karaoke jam; let’s hear it!

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