Toshiba was founded by the merging of two companies in 1939.
The first company, Tanaka Seizosho (Tanaka Engineering Works), was Japan's first manufacturer of telegraph equipment and was established by Hisashige Tanaka in 1875. In 1904, the company name was changed to Shibaura Seisakusho (Shibaura Engineering Works). Through the first part of the 20th century, Shibaura Engineering Works became a major manufacturer of heavy electrical machinery as Japan, modernized during the Meiji Era, became a world industrial power.
The second company, originally named Hakunetsusha, was established in 1890 and was Japan's first producer of incandescent electrical lamps. The company diversified into the manufacture of other consumer products, and in 1899 it was renamed Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric).
The merger of in 1939 of Shibaura Seisakusho and Tokyo Denki created a new company called Tokyo Shibaura Denki. It was soon nicknamed Toshiba, but it wasn't until 1978 that the company was officially renamed Toshiba Corporation.
The group expanded strongly, both by internal growth and by acquisitions, buying heavy engineering and primary industry firms in the 1940s and 1950s and then spinning off subsidiaries in the 1970s and beyond, groups created include Toshiba EMI (1960), Toshiba Electrical Equipment (1974), Toshiba Chemical (1974), Toshiba Lighting and Technology (1989) and Toshiba Carrier Corpoaration (1999).
The company was responsible for a number of Japanese firsts, including radar (1942), the TAC digital computer (1954), transistor television and microwave oven (1959), color video phone (1971), Japanese word processor (1978), MRI system (1982), laptop personal computer (1986), NAND EEPROM (1991), DVD (1995), and the Libretto sub-notebook personal computer (1996).
Before WWII, Toshiba was a member of the Mitsui Group zaibatsu. Today Toshiba is a member of the Mitsui keiretsu, and still has preferential arrangements with Mitsui Bank and the other members of the keiretsu. Membership in a keiretsu traditionally meant loyalty, both corporate and private, to other members of the keiretsu or allied keiretsu. This loyalty could extend as far as the beer that workers would consume, which in Toshiba's case was Kirin.
Source | Copyright