The future president of one of the world’s largest corporations, Konosuke Matsushita, began his career as a bicycle salesman in Osaka. Then the young man was lured away by the owner of a nearby shop who sold electrical appliances. The year was 1918, and the first light bulbs, irons and other ingenious devices, which were still a rarity in Japan, fascinated Konosuke: he saved some money, quit his shop and tried to open his own workshop.
Due to the lack of large capital, they had to start with the production of sockets for light bulbs – a consumable material for which, according to Matsushita’s observations, there was a stable demand. Matsushita organized an assembly shop in his rented apartment; the first workers of the enterprise were several former colleagues and his wife’s brother. And since the company was practically family-owned, the name came to mind somehow by itself – Matsushita Denki.
The cartridges were indeed popular, however, the money from their sales was barely enough to pay the partners. The company was saved from bankruptcy at the very beginning by an unexpected order for a thousand stands for electric fans. Matsushita and his comrades riveted the stands day and night, the order was completed on time, and the company received its first big money. It became obvious that for the further development of the company it was necessary to produce something else besides light bulb sockets. Matsushita decided to produce electric headlights for bicycles, which he read about in some popular magazine.
Panasonic T-50 radio (1962)
When the first prototype of a convenient bicycle light with an original battery was ready, the inspired entrepreneur went to show the new product to bicycle sellers in the hope of immediately agreeing on supplies. But the merchants reacted very coolly to the device: “Why would people pay extra money for some kind of flashlight, which they previously managed just fine without?” – they were perplexed. And then Matsushita decided to take a risky step: he still produced a small batch of headlights, and sent several pieces to each bike shop for free. Within a week, the owners of these stores bombarded him with orders: the headlights were sold out instantly, and the stores were attacked by thirsty customers who wanted to know when the sensational new product would appear on the shelves again.
Stereo system Panasonic RE-787 (1967)
The bicycle light became so popular that it began to replace home kerosene lamps. And then Matsushita organized the release of a tabletop model, calling it the “national Japanese lamp.” For the first time, the inscription “National” appeared on these lamps – from now on, all the company’s electrical products were to be sold under this brand.
Radio receiver Panasonic RE-785 (1971)
By the 1930s, Matsushita Denki was already a reputable company that owned several workshops producing a variety of electrical goods: from plugs for electrical sockets to irons and table lamps. However, just at this time, the Japanese government introduced a “strict austerity regime” – a series of economic restrictions that led to a general decline in the production and sale of household goods. Unsold products accumulated in warehouses, and factories could not operate at full capacity. In such conditions, the managers of many Japanese enterprises began to lay off workers en masse. But Matsushita used a different tactic: he introduced half-day work, but paid the salary as if it were full-time. During the second, “non-working” part of the day, as well as on Sunday, employees had to sell the accumulated goods – peddling them. People tried their best because no one wanted to lose their jobs. As a result, after just two months, all surplus products were sold out, and the enterprise was able to continue full-fledged operation. At the end of the 1930s, all 8 Matsushita Denki factories actually came under state control; in the workshops where irons and radios were once assembled, parts for aircraft and military ships began to be produced.
Stereo receiver National-Panasonic-SA-4400 (1973)
After World War II, restrictions on the production of household electrical appliances were lifted from the company and, despite the severe economic crisis, several Matsushita Denki factories continued to operate. To survive, the company urgently needed to reorient itself to the international market, since in poor post-war Japan it was extremely difficult to successfully sell “non-essential” goods. To get acquainted with Western economic realities, Matsushita went to the USA, where he was amazed by the abundance of various electrical equipment. To offer Americans something truly competitive, our own resources were not enough. Therefore, in 1952, Matsushita entered into an agreement with the Dutch company Philips, one of the developers of transistors – semiconductor devices that were destined to become the basis for most electrical appliances developed in the 1950s and 1960s.
Tape recorder National-Panasonic-RQ-542 (1975)
The joint Japanese-Dutch company was named Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. At the new plant in Osaka, built with the latest technology, lamps, cathode ray tubes, relays, transistors began to be produced – in a word, all those components that allowed the company’s products to reach the world level. With new tape recorders and radios, it was no longer shameful to show up in America, where a subsidiary, Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, was founded in 1959. Initially, all the company’s products were supposed to be sold overseas under the same brand as in Japan – National. But it turned out that such a name had already been registered in the USA. It was then that the name Panasonic was born, made up of the ancient Greek word “pan”, which means “everything” and the English “sonic” – sound. After all, at first Matsushita relied on audio equipment. As a result, the company’s products under the Panasonic brand began to be sold outside Japan, while in the Japanese Islands the same models were presented under the National brand. Later, this name began to be assigned to all the company’s household appliances – microwaves, toasters, juicers. In 1965, Matsushita’s high-end stereo systems received a separate name – Technics, and in the 1980s, the company’s management decided to introduce the name Panasonic to the Japanese.
Radio-Calendar Panasonic R-77 (1976)
The Panasonic logo itself has changed only three times since its inception in 1955. At first, both progenitor words – “Pana” and “Sonic” were written with capital letters – PanaSonic. In 1966, the name was inscribed in a circle, which, in turn, was inscribed in a large letter “N”. Elements of this logo go back to the pre-war version with hieroglyphs in 1937. And finally, in 1971, the familiar laconic emblem with the inscription “Panasonic” appeared without any additional graphic clutter.
Stereo system Panasonic SG-2080L (1976)
The active development of Panasonic lasted until the mid-70s, until 80-year-old Konosuke abandoned his brainchild completely. Today the company still holds a strong position in the electrical goods market, continuing to move in the direction laid down by its creator. In recent years, thanks to Panasonic, the world has seen the first recording DVD players, SD flash memory cards and more. The company is actively working in the field of creating new technologies. And although Konosuke Matsushita has not had the opportunity to participate in the activities of Matsushita Electric personally for a long time, the principles and ideas he laid down continue to determine the vector of the company’s development.
Stereo system Panasonic SG-J500L (1984)
By the early 1980s, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. became a generally recognized world leader in the production of electronics – it was difficult to name an electrical device, the production of which would not have been mastered by a Japanese corporation. In 1985, impressed by Sony’s success in video recording, Matsushita released its first camcorder using VHS cassettes. Later, having established the production of optical glass for video lenses, the company decided to try its hand at photographic equipment, introducing several compact film models under the National brand. But while the company made significant efforts to promote its video cameras, its film cameras remained quite high-quality, but by no means outstanding products. To gain a foothold in a new market, where fierce competition reigned, the company needed to offer the consumer something fundamentally new.
Stereo system Panasonic RX-FD80L (1987)
Back in 1981, Sony Corporation presented a prototype of the Mavica SLR camera, in which photographs were exposed not on the usual photographic film, but on an electronic CCD matrix. Three years later, Matsushita showed a prototype of its first electronic camera. It was a very serious-looking device of impressive size with a built-in 14-42 mm f/2 zoom lens and a 0.3-megapixel CCD matrix. The solid body, the quality of the optics and the principle of camera control indicated that this was a professional-class instrument. True, the quality of the image formed by the matrix, of course, could not satisfy the professionals – after all, photographs could not even be printed, the resolution was only enough to demonstrate the captured frames on a TV screen. However, by presenting this innovative model at the Photokina-84 exhibition, Matsushita Corporation clearly hinted that it has the most serious intentions regarding the photographic equipment market.
However, the first mass-produced digital camera, introduced in 1988 by the Panasonic AG-ES10, was no longer so ambitious. The compact plastic case with a tiny lens hidden in it did not even point to the amateur segment. This 0.38-megapixel compact device was clearly designed for gadget lovers. And, besides, it was not Matsushita’s own development: the Panasonic AG-ES10 was just a converted version of the Canon RC-470 camera presented in the same year. In 1997, the company launched several compact digital models of the familiar format: the captured images were no longer recorded on a magnetic disk, but on a miniature memory card. Hence the name of the entire series: Cardshot. Panasonic CardShot devices, for the most part, were still only slightly modified models from more famous photo manufacturers: Canon, Nikon, Konica and Minolta.
Panasonic RX-DT75 Cobra radio (1995)
An interesting review of tape recorders produced by Panasonic in the 90s of the 20th century: The Platinum Collection 4.4PDS and 4.6PDS series of component tape recorders includes 11 models and 9 regional modifications – 20 pieces in total! In the presented radios, Panasonic has implemented a number of innovative technical solutions that provide the series with an outstanding sound level. These are 5- and 4-band equalizers (depending on the model), the S-XBS function for improved bass reproduction, digital sound processing “MASH” (Multi Stage Noise Shaping) and of course the legendary 4.4/4.6 Bi-Amp System , filling Platinum Collection radios with deep, expressive sound.
Stereo system Panasonic RX-FT680 (1995)
To ensure highly detailed sound and elaboration of the entire spectrum, Panasonic has developed a special system that uses not 2 amplifiers (as in classic stereo circuits), but 4 amplifiers! A pair division has been created for low and high spectrum frequencies (for the left and right channels, respectively). The bass speakers are powered by a pair of amplifiers for low-range sounds, and the midrange speakers are powered by a pair of amplifiers for high-range sounds. In other words, each speaker received its own separate amplifier! And in the 4.6PDS system (6 speakers), an even more advanced circuit is implemented, dividing the upper sound range into mid and high frequencies. This made it possible to voice the highest frequency sounds of hardware in music, such as hi-hats. This acoustic scheme is called 4.4 PDS (with 4 speakers) and 4.6 PDS (with 6 speakers). It made it possible to significantly improve the quality and detail of the sound of radio tape recorders, bringing them to a fundamentally new level close to Hi-Fi class systems.
It should be noted that not all Platinum Collection radios are equipped with a similar circuit. It was installed only on the most powerful and top models of the series. For example, the RX-CT900 or RX-DS660 radios are not equipped with it and, accordingly, the sound quality in them is noticeably inferior to their older brothers with the 4.4 & 4.6PDS system. Depending on the country, the radios were supplied either in a black box or in a red-crimson box. The black packaging went to America and Canada. Red boxes were supplied to other countries. There was also a difference in the design of the box itself. The red one was somewhat more reliable and more thoughtful. Instructions for handling the packaging were even printed on the spread.
Stereo system Panasonic SA-PM91D (1998)
Depending on the country, the same model could have 2 or even 3 modifications. Radio tape recorders with a 110V power supply were supplied to the USA and Canada. Models with a universal power supply with switchable input voltage were supplied to Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. As I said, the Platinum Collection 4.4PDS and 4.6PDS series has 11 models: RX-CT980, RX-CT990, RX-E300, RX-DS790, RX-DT675, RX-DT670, RX-CT995, RX-DT690, RX- DT680, RX-CS780 and RX-DT300 Despite the apparent external similarity, each model in the series is unique and original. All of them are united by excellent sound quality and high output power. A separate item in this collection is the E-300 model. Even in the photo you can see how much it stands out from the general stylistic line. There are some oddities and peculiarities here, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ll tell you everything in order. Production of this series began in 1992 and ended in 1997. The decoding of the codes is as follows: P – USA PC – Canada EB – Great Britain EF – France EG – Germany GC – Asia and Saudi Arahia S – Japan GH – Hong Kong PN, PH, PU, PR – Central/South/Latin America GN – New Zealand, Australia EE – Russia and CIS GK – China K – this is the color “black” “9” – the code number of the manufacturer’s plant It was the regional modifications that added to the already rich list of models. Thus, in the Panasonic Platinum Collection 4.4PDS and 4.6PDS series there were as many as 20 radios!
Key milestones in the history of Panasonic 1918 – Japanese businessman Konosuke Matsushita founded the Matsushita Electric Factory 1927 – the National trademark was introduced 1931 – production of radios began 1932 – acquisition of a patent for the creation of radio equipment and its free provision to other Japanese manufacturers, as a contribution to the development of the electronics industry in Japan 1933 – adoption of the company division system; construction of a large plant in Kadoma, Osaka Prefecture; transfer of production to a new plant 1935 – restructuring of Matsushita Electric Industrial Company; creation of a subsidiary Matsushita Electric Works 1941 – start of production of military products; production of ships and aircraft from wood 1946 – the imposition of restrictions on the company by the General Staff of the Allied Forces (Allied Powers General Headquarters) 1952 – the founding of the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, with technical cooperation with the Dutch company Philips Electronics; construction of a new plant and further development 1954 – cooperation with JVC begins.
1957 – creation of an effective National Shop system – a retail chain designed to sell goods under the National brand.
1965 – birth of the Technics brand (Matsushita Electric Corporation) for the creation of high-quality audio equipment. Main goal: successful sales on the international market and worthy competition to Japanese manufacturers such as Nakamichi.
introduction of weekly two-day days off for workers; adoption of a new trading system that reduces the number of links involved in the sales process.
1975 – premiere of the world’s first phase-linear acoustic systems Technics SB-7000, price at the time of sales in 1977 was about 100,000 yen/700 USD.
1977 – VHS video cassette sales began.
the beginning of production of a series of stereo amplifiers SE-A1, SE-A3, SE-A5, under the Technics brand
1979 – the legendary vinyl hi-fi player Technics SL-1200 MK2 was released, which became a world bestseller among household vinyl disc players and had unattainable detonation parameters due to the use Revolutionary direct drive technology. The production period was from 1979 to 2002, the price at the time of sales was about 125,000 yen/750 USD. In 2014, after analyzing supply/demand, marketers announced the resumption of production of the legendary Technics SL-1200 MK2 vinyl player.
1983 – release of the Panasonic JR-200 home computer.
1984 – launch of the legendary Technics SL-P50P CD player costing 670,000 yen/4000 USD
1986 – launch of the Panasonic name as a trademark in Japan
1987 – launch of bread makers.
1989 – Konosuke Matsushita, the legendary founder and leader of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., died at the age of 94. (National, National Panasonic, Panasonic, Technics, Lumix, Quasar)
Beginning of large-scale reform of technology departments.
Abbreviation of a unique institute of acoustics with an anechoic chamber.
1990 – National branded consumer electronics rebranded as Panasonic in Japan.
1993 – Panasonic’s attempt to profit from the video game market with its 3DO Interactive Multiplayer game console; strong competition from Sony PlayStation did not allow this console to develop and its release was completed at the end of 1995
1993 – cancellation of the joint venture agreement with Philips and change of contract to a closed license regime
1994 – creation of a joint venture Panasonic Shun Hing Industrial Sales (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd and Panasonic SH Industrial Sales (Shenzen) Co., Ltd in China with Shun Hing Electric Works (Hong Kong)
1997 – Created a group consolidation policy that led to the reduction of subsidiaries
2001 – Panasonic released the Nintendo GameCube (“Q” in Japan) using DVD
2002 – Technics branded products sold in the USA and Europe are renamed Panasonic
2003 – the global brand and motto “Panasonic” are introduced. Ideas for life.”
2008 – change of company name from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. at Panasonic Corporation. The last Technics SL-1200MK6 turntable has been released, ending the Technics brand.
2014 – after six years of silence, marketers announced the revival of the Technics brand and the start of production of the first models: two-channel amplifier SE-R1, network audio player SU-R1, speaker system SB-R1 and the legendary Technics SL-1200 MK2.