Shigeichi Negishi, the Japanese entrepreneur who invented the first-ever karaoke machine, died on January 26, The Wall Street Journal reports. Negishi, who was based in Tokyo, was 100 years old.

Journalist Matt Alt, who interviewed Negishi for his book Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World, reported the news on X and expanded on Negishi’s legacy in an obituary for The Wall Street Journal. Negishi’s daughter confirmed her father’s death to Alt, stating that he died from natural causes after a fall.

Negishi was the head of an electronics company when he first envisioned what would become the Sparko Box—a blueprint for the globally-adored karaoke machine. Legend has it that Negishi was singing to himself as he walked into his office one day in 1967. After an employee poked fun at his sub-par crooning, Negishi realized he would surely sound better with the help of a backing track.

Negishi, who loved singing along to the radio and television programs, eventually had an employee wire together a speaker, tape deck, and microphone, testing the prototype with an instrumental version of Yoshio Kodama’s “Mujo no Yume.” After a trial run, he took the MacGyvered machine home and “convened history’s first karaoke party with his wife and children,” as Alt put it.

In an interview with Alt, Negishi discussed how he named his pivotal invention. Negishi first proposed “karaoke,” a contraction of the Japanese words for “empty” and “orchestra.” His distributor, however, would not allow it, saying that “karaoke sounded too much like kanoke”—which means coffin. The Sparko Box was born.

Though Negishi never patented the Sparko Box, he spent a period of time as a traveling salesman of the contraption, driving around Japan and demonstrating his invention at bars, restaurants, and hotels. He sold roughly 8,000 Sparko Boxes during this period, but eventually terminated his endeavors in 1975.

While there where a few Japanese inventors who created similar gadgets prior to karaoke’s widespread boom in the 1980s and ’90s, Negishi’s Sparko Box preceded them all. Even Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue, who created a similar gizmo called the 8 Juke, was four years behind the Sparko Box.

Alt reports that Negishi’s family watches over the sole remaining, and still functioning, Sparko Box.

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