Life in this digital era would have been vulnerable if we didn’t have access to communication equipment to transfer signals, medical equipment to carry out surgeries, and most importantly, power systems to fuel up the machines. Moreover, amongst the growing advancement in electronic products, Toshiba, a Japanese multinational corporation, has sailed the world through a wave of premiere wide-ranging devices, starting from household appliances to social infrastructure systems. Toshiba has its headquarters based in Tokyo, Japan, with a robust number of subsidiaries.
Wisdom and experience always bring something special to the table. Toshiba remained numero uno in the industry of manufacturing over the decades. The extremely rich heritage of the company dates back to the 19th century when the brand played a major role in the industrialization of Japan. Toshiba is an exceptional success story and a shining example of vision and grit.
Early Days for Toshiba
The historic yet consequential journey of Toshiba began in 1873 when the Ministry of Engineering recognized the need to modernize Japan and provided Hisashige Tanaka with the capital required to produce telegraphic equipment. He established Tanaka Engineering Works (which was later renamed as Shibaura Engineering Works). The company also produced various electrical devices like switches for communication systems. The company, later, came under the supervision of Tanaka’s adopted son. The foundation started taking off gradually when Ichisuke Fujioka established Hakunetsu-sha Co Ltd in 1890 (which was later known as Tokyo Electric Company Ltd) to produce light bulbs in Japan itself so they won’t have to import them from foreign countries.
After the death of Tanaka in 1881, General Electric partly acquired Tanaka Seisakusho. This is followed by the acquisition of the company by Mitsui Bank in 1893, renaming it as Shibaura Seisakusho. Shibaura Seisakusho and Hakunetsu-Sha Co Ltd, both were at their best phase when the Great Kanto earthquake hit the city and took away several lives. Several employees of these two companies fall victim to this calamity, and hence, suffered a major loss.
During the 1930s, the government banned the production of home appliances and shifted its interest to make war equipment. In the year 1939, Tokyo Denki (previously known as Hakunetsu-Sha) and Shibaura Seisakusho were merged to form Tokyo Shibaura Denki (now Toshiba) with General Electric Company holding 24% share.
During the world war, Toshiba mainly supplied radios and generators. However, after the war ended, it had to face many difficulties. In the post-war era, production slowly recovered and sales increased as Toshiba developed a new technology, expanded factories, and built new production units. International sales were also gradually rising.
Toshiba entered an expansion phase when, around 1973, they decided that they need to grow further. With a sole aim to develop advanced technology, they invested heavily in the R&D department. After a few years, the company introduced the first one-megabyte DRAM memory chip. They also began producing laptops or personal computers.
The continued sojourn of determination was not without a due share of setbacks. It was a disaster for the company in 1987 when the US Senate banned the import of Toshiba products. The US discovered that a half-owned Toshiba subsidiary was selling submarine sound-deadening equipment to the Soviet Union. Toshiba seized the opportunity and instead of wallowing in self-pity, they expanded to other global markets.
During the 1990s, the company started further new firms, including Toshiba Music Industries, Toshiba International Corporation, Toshiba Electrical Equipment, Toshiba Chemical, and many more. It was also responsible for developing some of Japan’s first electronics. In 1995, Toshiba’s partnership with Time Warner helped build a reputation when they developed a path-breaking DVD format. It soon became the new standard of quality in the industry.
The company created Japan’s first TAC digital computer followed by transistor television, microwave oven color video phone, MRI system, DVD, and sub-notebook personal computer. These are some of the few inventions, which were instrumental in helping the company pioneer the electronics industry. The company was plagued by a class-action lawsuit concerning alleged faulty floppy disk drives, but the case was settled to prevent further adverse publicity.
In 2001, to meet the increasing demand in the North American market, Toshiba signed an agreement with Orion Electric to supply TV and video products for the company. In the year 2006, Toshiba made one of the greatest acquisitions in the history of the company by acquiring Westinghouse Electric Company, the world’s largest nuclear power company for $5.4 billion. In 2009, Toshiba bought the Hard Disk Drive business of Fujitsu.
In 2011, Toshiba announced the acquisition of Landis+Gyr for $2.3 billion, followed by the acquisition of IBM’s point-of-sale business $850 million. In December 2013, Toshiba established its manufacturing unit in India after acquiring Vijai Electricals Limited Plant, Hyderabad, India. In January 2014, Toshiba acquired OCZ Storage Solutions, and in the same year, Toshiba and United Technologies came in a joint venture and diversified it outside Japan. Since then, Toshiba has acquired many other companies, and even, faced numerous scandals. The company sold Westinghouse as it suffered a wide loss in 2017.
At present, Toshiba produces one of the finest electronic products and services in the entire world and is getting stronger day by day. Around 140,000 employees as per the statistics of 2019 work in the company. It believes in creating products that are more efficient in the future and thrives for excellence.