Can stop the music: Karaoke inventor dies

The unsung hero of countless boozy nights out has passed away. Shigeichi Negishi, inventor of the first commercially available karaoke machine, died of natural causes, at the age of 100.

In 1967, Nigishi was running an electronics business when a co-worker mocked his singing. According to NPR, his response was to build the "Sparko Box", a coin-operated machine containing eight-track cassettes loaded with instrumental tracks, accompanied by a lyric booklet.

"By automating the sing-along, he earned the enmity of performers who saw his machine as a threat to their jobs," wrote author Matt Alt on social media. Alt interviewed Negishi for his book, Pure Invention: How Japan Made the Modern World. "It's an eerie precursor of the debate surrounding AI's impact on artists today." 

He unleashed the off-key shot heard round the world, but Negishi never secured a patent, and he closed the company in 1975. Several other Japanese inventors also created similar devices in the 60s and 70s. So the next time you're suffering through — or enjoying — a karaoke performance, pour one out for Negishi and his fellow inventors.

See also: Watch David Byrne sing Prince's 'When Doves Cry' at a tiki-karaoke bar