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Toshi T. Doi (Int'l Edition)

International -- The Stars of Asia -- Managers

Toshi T. Doi (int'l edition)

President -- Digital Creatures Laboratory, Sony Corp. -- Japan

Success seems to come naturally to Toshi T. Doi, 58, Sony Corp.'s top computer engineer. One of his first major research efforts, a joint project with Philips Electronics, yielded the compact disk in 1980. Next, Doi oversaw the development of Japan's first popular computer workstation. Then, in 1988, Doi set up Sony's Computer Science Lab, the first corporate-funded institute in Japan dedicated to pure computer research. His early successes are now rivaled by his latest project: Aibo, a robotic dog that can sit, heel, bark, fetch, and avoid furniture.

Since its debut a year ago, Aibo has charmed the world, though relatively few fans have been lucky enough to adopt one. Sony has sold a limited supply of 45,000 of them--at $2,000 each, plus accessories--generating more than $100 million in sales.

Doi, a jazz buff who plays the alto saxophone and a South American flute, envisions a future populated with digital creatures. "Ten years from now, there will be robots in each home and office walking around and entertaining people," he predicts. Doi is preparing for that day: He's working on full production of Aibo, along with other critters. "My plan is to build this into one of Sony's main business fields," says Doi. That's how the tail wags the dog.

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