You might recognize Toshiba as one of the medical imaging producers of the equipment we have here at Amber. What you might not know is that even though Toshiba’s roots run all the way back to 1875, the company didn’t become the Toshiba we know today until 1978, when its name was changed from the Tokyo Shibaura Electric K.K. to the shortened form of Toshiba. Today, the company is based in Tokyo, Japan, and its services include information technology and communications equipment and systems, electronic components and materials, power systems, household appliances, medical equipment of course, and more. Below are five neat facts about the Japanese company.
1.) Toshiba is a merge between two companies: Shibaura Engineering Works (later changed to Shibaura Seisakusho,) and Tokyo Electric Company (formerly known as Tokyo Denki.) Shibaura Engineering Works was founded in 1875 and was Japan’s first manufacturer of telegraph equipment. The two companies merged in 1939 to become Tokyo Shibaura Electric and soon garnered the nickname of Toshiba, but it wasn’t until 1978 that the name was officially renamed Toshiba Corporation.
2.) The founder of Shibaura Engineering Works, Tanaka Hisashige, was a gifted craftsman and inventor. He was born in 1799, and all through his twenties he created karakuri dolls, which are autonomous dolls powered by strings, pneumatics and hydraulics that were very popular with aristocrats at the time. He performed with them all over the country at festivals and declined to take over the family business; he eventually went on to build Japan’s first domestically made steam locomotive and found the Shibaura Engineering Works only a few years before his death.
3.) Toshiba is responsible for many Japanese firsts – including radar in 1912, the TAC digital computer in 1954, the transistor television and microwave oven in 1959, color video phone in 1971, Japanese word processor in 1978, MRI system in 1982, laptop personal computer in 1985, DVD in 1995, the Libretto sub-notebook personal computer in 1996, and HD DVD in 2005.
4.) Since Toshiba developed the HD DVD format, it had been in a format war against Blu-Ray. Toshiba subsequently announced defeat against Blu-Ray on February 19th, 2008, when most of the major US film studios backed Blu-Ray over HD DVD.
5.) As mentioned in fact number 3, the world’s first laptop was created by Toshiba in 1985. It was priced at $1,899 at the time and weighed a whopping 4.1 Kilograms. It sounds crazy by today’s standards, but the craziest part is – the computer still works!