Andreas Pavel (born in 1945) is a German-Brazilian media designer, sociologist, philosopher, inventor, and music producer, who is credited as the first person to invent and patent the personal stereo player, that became a worldwide success after the idea was commercialized by Sony as the Walkman.
Pavel's grandfather had been the engineer responsible for the design of the Berlin subway system, and his father became the vice-president of the Federation of German in Industries (BDI). Born in Brandenburg, Germany, Pavel went to São Paulo when he was six years old, brought by his father who went to work for the Matarazzo Industries.
Having studied philosophy and social sciences in Berlin, Pavel started his professional career when he came back to Brazil in 1967 as head of programming of the newly found public television TV Cultura. From 1970 to 1973 Pavel was responsible for editorial planning at Abril Cultural, where he developed partwork encyclopedias that were sold nationwide at newsstands, most notably the collection of philosophical classics "Os Pensadores" produced together with José Artur Gianotti, and the reference collection of great popular composers "Musica Popular Brasileira", produced with music critic Tárik de Souza.
From 1968 onwards Pavel lived in a round-shaped house in Cidade Jardim, projected for his mother by the architect Ronaldo Duschenes, a place that became known and much visited for its legendary quality as a sound reproduction environment. Pavel was acquainted to many important personalities of the time, including journalist Vladimir Herzog, poets Augusto and Haroldo de Campos, critic Francisco Achcar, psychologists Rodolfo Azzi and José Gaiarsa, film critic Jean-Claude Bernardet, philosophers Hugh Lacey and José Artur Gianotti, architects Sérgio Ferro and Flávio Império, photographer Thomas Farkas, oncologist Drauzio Varella, anthropologist Ruth Cardoso, sociologist Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and culture historian Ottaviano de Fiore, among others. It was in that efervescent environment of sound, culture, and politics, at a time of military dictatorshipin in Brazil, that Pavel developed his concept of a personal hifi-stereo listening system.
In 1976 Pavel moved to Milan to continue the multi-media research that he had started in São Paulo. In 1977 he wrote the blueprint for his personal audio system, "The Coming Audio Revolution", and designed a modular version of it,the stereobelt, which today is part of the collection of the Museum for Italian Design, at the Trienale di Milano.
Over the next few years Pavel tried to interest companies like Yamaha, ITT, Uher, Beyer, B&O, and Brionvega in manufacturing his personal hifi-system. In March 1977, Pavel filed his priority patent application on the device in Italy followed by patents in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Japan.
In 1979, Sony began selling the popular Walkman, and in 1980 started legal talks with Pavel regarding a possible agreement on royalty fees. In 1986 Sony finally agreed to pay royalties to Pavel, after it lost opposition to Pavel's German patent, but only for sales of some models in Germany and the UK.
In 1989, Pavel started infringement proceedings against Sony in the UK. Four years later, the British patent was invalidated by a British judge on the request of Sony's lawyers, though his very decision confirmed
- the infringement of Pavel's patent claim,
- that the first Walkman prototype was created within Sony in the very month of publication of Pavel's patent application, October 1978,
- the technical feasibility of the Walkman long before that date,
- the contrary trend towards ever larger, rather than smaller, stereo portables,
- the huge commercial success of the new device and its countless imitators. Significantly, the Walkman included multiple headphone sockets and a non-recording microphone to pick up environmental sounds, as specified in Pavel's patent claims. The court case included a large number of documents attesting to the generalized surprise reaction at the idea of a walking hifi system and the special effect of high-quality music reproduction in mobile situations, which has been described as making life into a film.
Pavel was left with a cost order of $3.6 million to cover the litigation expenses of Sony and Toshiba, who had joined it in opposing Pavel's patent claims. In 1999, Pavel threatened Sony with further legal suits in every country in which he had patented his invention. The corporation agreed to resume talks with Pavel and a settlement was finally reached in 2003. The agreement led Pavel switch off www.sonyeposed.com, a website that he had created to report on the litigation.
The exact settlement fee is a closely guarded secret, but European press accounts said that Pavel received a cash settlement for damages in excess of $10,000,000 and is now also receiving royalties on some Walkman sales. The settlement also includes a clause which will prevent Pavel from bringing future lawsuits based on the same set of patents and patent applications. The settlement grants Pavel the recognition from Sony that he was the original inventor of personal stereo, as exemplified by and introduced with Sony's Walkman. It was achieved after the death of Akio Morita, the founder of Sony who sometimes was credited as the creator of personal stereo, although this was in contrast with a variety of different accounts by Sony itself, including the one it produced in court.
Pavel reportedly had considered asking manufacturers of MP3 music players for royalties, including Apple (for their iPod player). However, in December 2005 he said he did not intend to do so, not wishing to spend further time fighting lawsuits.
He is now working at 3D telephony and developing what he calls a "dreamkit", a "hand-held, multimedia, sense-extension device". He has also produced a DVD box "A Fala da Flauta" and a CD box "Poesia do Sopro", on the last great master of "choro" music, the Brazilian flutist Altamiro Carrilho.