Toshiba was founded by two great inventors. Hisashige Tanaka, the “Thomas Edison of Asia,” became widely known for his true talent as an inventor. Hisashige studied mathematics and astronomy and invented many things using his unique imagination – a light source that shone ten times brighter than a candle, a spring clock that kept accurate time for over 200 days. He even worked in heavy industry, where he developed steam locomotives, steamships and cannons. The slogan that greeted visitors to Tanaka Engineering Works, “We improve lives by creating things people need,” expressed true dedication to the business.


Ichisuke Fujioka was the Japanese “Father of Electronics”. He pioneered the production of incandescent lamps in Japan and was a pioneer in the Japanese electronics industry.
Electricity was just beginning to conquer the world, and in 1899 the first manufacturer of electrical lighting equipment in Japan was named Tokyo Electric Company. Around the same time, one of Japan’s largest manufacturers of heavy electrical equipment was named Shibauro Electric Company.  Tokyo Shibaura Denki was created in 1939 through the merger of Shibaura Seisakusho and Tokyo Denki. At that time, both companies were technological leaders in the industry: Shibaura Seisakusho (founded in 1875) was the first manufacturer of telegraph equipment in Japan, Tokyo Denki (founded in 1890) was the first Japanese manufacturer of incandescent lamps. In 1978, the company’s official name was shortened to Toshiba Corporation.

toshiba bom beat 75.jpg
Toshiba BomBeat 75 (1983)

During the 1940s and 1950s, the corporation grew organically through the acquisition of companies in related industries and through financial support from the Mitsui Group. However, in the early 1960s, Japan experienced an economic recession that also affected Toshiba. To strengthen the company’s position, Toshivo Doko, who also served as chairman of the board of the world’s largest shipbuilding company IHI Corporation, was invited to the post of president. Under his leadership, Toshiba raised additional capital through the sale of a large stake in the American corporation GE, which had been a significant shareholder of the company even before World War II. This made it possible to modernize production and begin expansion abroad, primarily to the USA. By 1967, the company was considered the largest electronics manufacturer and the fourth largest company in Japan, it controlled 63 subsidiaries and employed more than 100 thousand people. Since the 1960s, business groups have been formed and the companies Toshiba Music Industries/Toshiba EMI (1960), Toshiba International Corporation (1970s), Toshiba Electrical Equipment (1974), Toshiba Chemical (1974), Toshiba Lighting have been spun off and Technology (1989), Toshiba America Information Systems (1989) and Toshiba Carrier Corporation (1999).

TOSHIBA RT s90.jpg
Toshib a RT S90 (1983) 

In 1977, Toshiba acquired the Brazilian company Semp (Sociedade Eletromercantil Paulista) and merged it with its South American subsidiary to create Semp Toshiba. In 1980, the company was headed by Shoichi Saba, under whose leadership Toshiba began to expand its scope of activities, especially in the electronics industry. In 1985, the company was the first in the world to create a DRAM chip with a capacity of 1 megabyte; by 1987, it accounted for half of the world production of such chips. In 1986, Toshiba created two joint ventures with Motorola and IBM to produce personal computers and communications systems. Also in the 1980s, the company began to develop the production of nuclear fuel[11]. In December 1989, Nippon Atomic Industry Group Co., Ltd. was acquired. In 1987, a subsidiary of Tocibai Machine was accused of supplying the USSR with milling machines, bypassing the decision of the “Coordinating Committee for Export Control” – the equipment was used by the Soviet Union for the production of ultra-quiet submarines. As a result, Shoichi Saba and several directors resigned, and a three-year embargo was imposed on the import of Toshiba equipment into the United States. However, the embargo encouraged the company to expand into new markets, particularly China, and the company’s net profits doubled between 1987 and 1990. Since 1987, the company has been headed by Joichi Aoi.

Toshiba SMS-4550.jpg
Toshiba SMS-4550 (1976) 

In 1992, Toshiba began a partnership with the American company Time Warner in the development of DVD standards. The format they developed has become generally accepted throughout the world. In 1996, the company introduced its first DVD players and drives for computers. Also this year, there was a change in management – Taizo Nishimuro became president of Toshiba Corporation. The financial crisis that began in 1997 forced it to carry out a large-scale reorganization: 6,500 employees were laid off, the number of divisions, subsidiaries and board members was significantly reduced. In 1999, Toshiba paid $1.1 billion in US claims related to defective disk drives in more than 5 million laptops. In 2000, Nishimuro became chairman of the board, and the post of president was after him taken by Tadashi Okamura. In the 20th century, Toshiba Corporation was the developer of a number of Japanese innovations. In particular, she was responsible for Japan’s first fluorescent lamp (1940), transistor television and microwave oven (both in 1959), and word processor (1979). Some of the company’s developments became the first in the world – for example, a color video phone (1970), a laptop (1985), 16-megabit NAND (1992), an MPEG-4 graphics compression engine (1998), the world’s quietest MRI machine ( 1999)

toshiba 330.jpg
Toshiba 330-Series (1978)

In 2001, Toshiba signed a contract with Orion Electric, one of the world’s largest consumer OEM suppliers, to produce TV and video products for the growing North American market. The contract ended in 2008. In July 2005, the British company British Nuclear Fuels Ltd has confirmed its intentions to sell Westinghouse Electric Company, an American company specializing in the construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants and which BNFL has owned since 1999. The takeover of Westinghouse Electric was completed on October 17, 2006. The total contract amount was $5.4 billion, Toshiba became the owner of 77% of the shares (87% in 2016. In 2006, Toshiba abandoned the production of home plasma TVs. To ensure competitiveness in the digital television panel market, it was decided to invest in the production of screens at based on the new SED technology.[source not specified 377 days] In January 2009, Toshiba acquired the hard drive division of Fujitsu. In 2011, Toshiba acquired the Swiss company Landis+Gyr, a world leader in the production of electronic measurement equipment, for $2.3 billion. Also In 2011, Toshiba, Sony and Hitachi agreed to merge their small- and medium-sized LCD panel businesses to create the combined company Japan Display Inc., which began operations in the spring of 2012. The combined company plans to begin production by 2018 OLED displays for iPhone.

toshiba xr z60.jpg
Toshiba XR-Z60K (1986) 

In April 2012, Toshiba acquired IBM’s POS terminal business for $850 million, becoming the world’s largest supplier of point-of-sale terminals. In January 2014, Toshiba completed its acquisition of OCZ Storage Solutions. In October 2014, Toshiba and United Technologies signed an agreement to expand their joint activities outside Japan. In July 2015, Toshiba CEO Hisao Tanaka resigned after being caught falsifying the company’s financial statements. In December 2015, the company paid a fine of ¥7.3735 billion ($61 million) to the Financial Services Agency of Japan. Lawsuits were also filed against the company in California (USA) and Japan. In January 2016, Toshiba’s security systems department introduced a new range of services for schools using video surveillance systems. The program, intended for secondary and higher education, included discounts for schools, alarms and post-warranty service for all IP equipment.

toshiba xr z90.JPG
Toshiba XR-Z90 (1983)

In March 2016, Canon sold its medical equipment subsidiary Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation for ¥665.5 billion. In the 2015 financial year, the turnover of this company was ¥280 billion, net profit – ¥16 billion. In addition, blocks of shares belonging to Toshiba Corporation were sold for another ¥200 billion, which was caused by the need to cover large losses in the 2015 and 2016 financial years and the inability additional issues of its shares. The bulk of the losses were caused by a subsidiary of Westinghouse; attempts to conceal them starting in 2012 led to a scandal involving falsification of financial statements. Westinghouse’s problems are caused by the fact that with the fall in oil prices and after the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, interest in nuclear energy has dropped significantly, especially in Japan. In November 2017, Toshiba announced the sale of a 95% stake in its video and TV division to Hisense, one of the largest electronics and home appliance manufacturers in China. On December 25, 2017, Toshiba Corporation purchased a 10% stake in Westinghouse Electric from NAC Kazatomprom JSC for $522 million.