Tech History Trivia: Toshiba

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There you are, typing away on your Toshiba machine, never supposing that you’re working with the product of one of the oldest tech companies in the world! Turns out that the company’s roots are almost 150 years old and it has been at the forefront of the electronics and communications industry ever since.

Pre-1900

One of the parent companies that eventually merged to become Toshiba as we know it today was Tanaka Seisakusho,founded in 1875 and later renamed Shibaura Seisakusho, the first Japanese engineering company to manufacture telegraph equipment for the country. Meanwhile, in 1890, another company, called Hakunetsusha and later renamed Tokyo Denki, was founded to manufacture lightbulbs (after the founders also casually built the first power generator in Japan!).

1900-1939

The important connection that eventually led to these two parent companies merging was actually with General Electric. In 1905, GE acquired 51% of Tokyo Denki and, in 1910, 24% of Shibaura Seisakusho. This made sense because the two companies both manufactured a selection of light and heavy electrical equipment, and the connection with GE allowed them to introduce Western tech into Japan, leading to great successes for both.

Their similarities and membership in the Mitsui Bank group of businesses eventually led the two companies to come together during the war years as the single Tokyo Shibaura Denki company in 1939, and their name was quickly transformed into the easier portmanteau To-Shiba. They specialized in creating electrical home appliances that reduced the use of iron and steel, needed for war purposes, but incorporated new developments in electrical technology.

1940-1983

The company dealt with the challenges of the war by becoming a military supplier for radios and other electronics, and then expanded quickly in the decades following by exporting goods to Southeast Asia and eventually founding overseas headquarters and manufacturing subsidiaries to handle growth.

The economic downturn of the early 70s brought a halt to growth, however, and instead prompted the company to look inward to research and development, leading them to create Japan’s first color video phone in 1971 and word processor in 1978. In 1983, they rebranded themselves by the name everyone used and we all recognize: Toshiba.

1984-present

Toshiba established itself as a leader in Japanese electronics by its invention in 1986 of the first laptop personal computer in Japan. It focused resources on semiconductors and expanded its PC business. From 2001 to 2005, in cooperation with Sony and IBM, Toshiba helped design the Cell Broadband Engine, an advanced computer chip that can be used in applications as diverse as supercomputers, HD TVs, and Playstations. Toshiba has its own line of laptops based on this Cell processor.

Today Toshiba manufactures a variety of including DVD players, digital video recorders (DVRs), printers, copiers, lighting products, medical imaging equipment, surveillance systems, liquid crystal display (LCD) devices, and (of course) laptop computers. And that’s where ComputerCare comes in. We are authorized to perform warranty repairs on Toshiba’s laptops, meaning you can rely on us for support during these crazy times. Learn more about our services here.