Toshiba‘s early history has two strands: One is Tanaka Seizo-sho (Tanaka Engineering Works), established in 1882, and based on a factory started by Hisashige Tanaka (1799-1881) in 1875.
Tanaka was well known from his youth for creations that included mechanical dolls and a perpetual clock.
Eventually, under the name Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works), his company became one of Japan‘s largest manufacturers of heavy electrical apparatus.

The other is Hakunetsu-sha & Co., Ltd. established as Japan's first manufacturer of incandescent lamps. Subsequent diversification saw the company evolve as a manufacturer of consumer products. In 1899, it became Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Co.).

In 1939, these two companies, leaders in their respective fields, merged to form an integrated electric equipment manufacturer, Tokyo Shibaura Denki (Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.). The company was soon well known as 'Toshiba,' which became its official name in 1978.

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In 1873, the Ministry of Engineering, responsible for promoting Japan’s modernization, commissioned Hisashige Tanaka to develop telegraphic equipment. He built a factory in Tokyo in 1875 to accommodate the growing government orders. This was Tanaka Seizo-sho (Tanaka Engineering Works), one of the forerunners of Toshiba.

Separately, in 1878, Ichisuke Fujioka developed Japan’s first arc lamp while studying at the Imperial College of Engineering (now the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tokyo), under the tutelage of visiting professor William Ayrton. At that time, Japan had to import all of its electric lamps. Fujioka established Hakunetsu-sha Co., Ltd. in 1890 to manufacture light bulbs in Japan.

The factory founded in the Ginza in Tokyo

Hisashige Tanaka opened a telegraph equipment factory in Shimbashi, Tokyo

Ichisuke Fujioka and Shoichi Miyoshi established Hakunetsu-sha & Co., Ltd. in Kyobashi, Tokyo

Manufactured Japan's first electric incandescent light bulbs

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The two firms pioneered the development of electrical equipment in Japan. Tanaka Engineering Works created a waterwheel-powered turbine generator and Hakunetsu-sha developed a radio transmitter. In 1921, Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Company; the name was changed from Hakunetsu-sha in 1899) invented the double-coil electric bulb, later recognized as one of the six great inventions in the history of bulb technology.

The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 caused immense damage, leaving over 100,000 people dead. Tokyo Electric Company lost many employees in the disaster. The company’s president helped to inspire the reconstruction effort, famously remarking that, “A factory without a research institute is like an insect without antennae.” The company actively entered new fields around this time, including medical equipment and radio devices.

The World’s First Double-Coil Bulb

Produced Japan's first waterwheel power generators (60 kW)

Manufactured Japan's first electric fans

Produced Japan's first induction motors

Tokyo Hakunetsu Dentokyuu Seizo Co., Ltd. established
(renamed Tokyo Electric Company in 1899)

Tokyo Hakunetsu Dentokyuu Seizo Co., Ltd. established (renamed Tokyo Electric Company in 1899)

Shibaura Engineering Works Co., Ltd. Established

Shibaura Engineering Works Co., Ltd. Established

Manufactured Japan's first X-ray tubes

Produced Japan's first radio transmission tubes

Invented the "double coil electric bulb," one of the six great inventions in bulb technology

Manufactured Japan's first 40-ton DC electric locomotive

Started trial manufacture of cathode-ray tubes

Manufactured Japan's first radio receivers

Manufactured Japan's first electric washing machines and refrigerators

Released Japan's first vacuum cleaners

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In the 1930s, the Japanese government introduced a ban on the production of home appliances to conserve vital supplies of iron and steel for the war effort. Hard times had arrived.

As co-members of the Mitsui zaibatsu, led by Mitsui Bank, Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works; the name was changed from Tanaka Engineering Works in 1893) and Tokyo Electric Company held cross-shareholdings and collaborated in a number of areas. As technology made progress, demand started to grow for home appliances that incorporated the advances made in heavy electrical machinery. The two companies merged in 1939 to form Tokyo Shibaura Denki (Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.). The merged entity already had ambitions to become one of the world’s leading electrical machinery manufacturers.

Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Company) Kawasaki Complex (Former Horikawacho Works–Closed in 2000)

Completed Japan's first 150kilowatt broadcast transmitter for NHK

Tokyo Electric Company merged with Shibaura Engineering Works Co., Ltd. and established Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.

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As the war intensified, the company grew rapidly by filling state orders for radios, vacuum tubes and other military supplies, and also producing generators. However, production capacity was crippled by bombing raids targeting factories.

As production recovered in the postwar years, the company focused initially on heavy electrical machinery and then returned to making smaller electrical equipment as reconstruction progressed. New sales subsidiaries were established to strengthen sales capabilities and exports to Southeast Asia began.

Former Horikawacho Works, immediately after the war

Manufactured Japan's first fluorescent lamp

Absorbed Shibaura Mazda industry Co., Ltd. and Nippon Medical Electric Co., Ltd., expanding home appliance line-up

Completed Japan's first radar

Absorbed Tokyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Toyo Fire Brick Co., Ltd., expanding line-up of communications equipment

Completed Japan's first 1,500A-1,000kilowatt unipolar mercury rectifiers

Completed Japan's first gas turbine for electricity generation

Under the Law on Elimination of Excessive Concentration of Economic Power, a group of 14 companies, including Tokyo Electric Appliances Co., Ltd., now Toshiba TEC Corp., was separated from Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.

Absorbed Toshiba Rolling Stock Co., Ltd., expanding rolling stock products

Completed Japan's first TV broadcast transmitters and TV microwave relay system

Manufactured Japan's first 72,500 kVA umbrella type waterwheel generators

Absorbed Dengyo-sha Prime Mover Works Ltd.

Absorbed Dengyo-sha Prime Mover Works Ltd.

Released Japan's first electric rice cookers

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Japan’s economy was booming by the second half of the 1950s, leading to rapid growth in the heavy electrical machinery, electronics and communications industries. Sales and profits grew quickly as Toshiba created novel products, developed original technologies, expanded existing factories and built new production facilities to supply fast-growing markets.

Overseas sales and manufacturing subsidiaries were established to develop the international business. The ratio of overseas sales gradually rose.

Overseas Sales Subsidiary, Former Toshiba Hawaii, Inc.

Developed Japan's first transistorized televisions

Developed Japan's first microwave ovens

Developed Japan's first color TV

Absorbed Ishikawajima-Shibaura Turbine Co., Ltd., expanding line up of turbines

Toshiba Science Museum opens

Toshiba Science Museum opens

Completed Japan's first 12,500kW nuclear power turbine generators

Developed transmitters for satellite communications

Completed the world's first automatic zip code reader

Launched world's first large-capacity static uninterruptable power supply (UPS) 

Developed a 100,000 gauss superconducting magnet, the most powerful in Japan

Developed the world's first color video phone

Released the world's first expanded IC color TV

Completed Japan's first 700,000kilowatt turbine generator

Released the world's first color TV with black stripe-type cathode-ray tubes

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The economic downturn following the first oil crisis in 1973 led Toshiba to invest more heavily in R&D, the rationale being that profits were the source of corporate vitality while technology was the driving force behind business development. The expanded R&D organization and higher R&D spending led to many new technologies that were the first in the world or the first in Japan.

Other initiatives to improve production technology, maintain high quality, save labor and shorten delivery lead-times contributed to significantly higher profits.

The first Japanese word processor

Celebrated 100th anniversary

Celebrated 100th anniversary

Completed 1-million kilowatt turbine generator, the largest in Japan

Developed world's first microcomputer for automobile engines

English official trade name of the company became "Toshiba Corporation" 

Released the first Japanese word processor

Developed Japan's first full-body X-ray CT system

Completed world's first optical-disc based data filing systems

Released world's first bulb-type fluorescent lamp, "Neo Ball™" (ball-shaped) 

Developed world's first home-use inverter air conditioner

Developed Japan's first Magnetic Resonance Imaging systems (MRI)

Commercialized the world's first OCR technology able to read Chinese characters

Link to 1873  Link to 1891  Link to 1932  Link to 1940  Link to 1957  Link to 1973  Link to 1984  Link to 2000  Link to 2015  

In 1984, the abbreviated form “Toshiba” replaced Tokyo Shibaura Denki as the company’s official name (in English, “Toshiba Corporation” was adopted in 1983).

Economic stagnation in Japan during the 1990s led Toshiba to adopt the “concentration and selection” approach to achieve sustained growth. This involved concentrating resources in sectors with growth potential and new businesses, while selectively promoting growth in mature or declining sectors through reform and restructuring. Toshiba focused resources on semiconductors and expanded the PC business.

In 1999, Toshiba introduced the in-house company system, creating eight in-house companies. Authority was delegated to these in-house companies to give them greater autonomy and promote faster decision-making.

A few years after Tokyo Shibaura Denki changed its name to Toshiba, a new logo replaced all of its predecessors.

Completed new head office "Toshiba Building"

Completed new head office "Toshiba Building"

Japanese official trade name of the company became "Toshiba" 

Japanese official trade name of the company became "Toshiba" 

Started operation of experimental 50kilowatt fuel cell power plant, the largest in Japan

Developed Japan's first transceiver device for HDTV systems

Released world's first non-latchup IGBT

Developed 1-megabit CMOS DRAM

Introduced world's first laptop personal computers

Developed superconducting MRI systems

Developed 4-megabit dynamic RAM

Developed 16-megabit dynamic RAM

Introduced notebook personal computer, "Dynabook"

Developed world's first large-capacity ultra-supercritical-pressure steam turbine

Developed the world's first 4-megabit NAND-type Electrically Erasable and Programmable Read-only Memory (EEPROM)

Developed the world's first 16-megabit NAND-type EEPROM

Produced prototype product of the world's smallest MOS transistor, with a gate length of 0.04 microns

Began commercial production of Microfilter Cathode-ray tubes, the world's first CRT with a filter incorporating the three primary colors

Developed high-density optical disc, "DVD"(DVD standardized)

Introduced the mini-notebook personal computer, "Libretto"

Introduced DVD video players and DVD-ROM drives(Commercialized DVD player in Japan)

Completed construction of the world's first advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) 

Introduced corporate executive officer system

Introduced corporate executive officer system

Developed the world's first MPEG 4 graphical data compression and expansion LSI

Introduced in-house company system

Introduced in-house company system

Launched the world's quietest MRI

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Rapid economic growth in developing countries and sluggish growth in the developed world led to major changes in economic and industrial paradigms in the 21st century. To prevail amid intensifying global competition transcending national borders, Toshiba continued to focus on restructuring businesses to reinforce their earnings base while seeking to transform its overall business structure by targeting growth sectors and emerging businesses. In this period, we strived to become an even stronger global contender by pursuing the “concentration and selection” approach while creating World's First and World's No. 1 products and services that were cost-competitive and captivated customers.

The World's first 3D LCD TV not requiring dedicated glasses

 Closed Horikawacho Works

 Closed Horikawacho Works

Changed registered headquarters from Kawasaki city Kanagawa, to Minato ward Tokyo

Changed registered headquarters from Kawasaki city Kanagawa, to Minato ward Tokyo

Announced 01 Action Plan

Announced 01 Action Plan

Commercialized the world's first HDD & DVD video recorder

Developed the world's first 65-nanometer (nm) CMOS process technology for embedded DRAM system LSIs

Adopted the "Company with Commitees" system

Adopted the "Company with Commitees" system

Transferred electric equipment for manufacturing plants business to TMA Electric Corporation (now Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems Corporation)

Introduced a 2-gigabit (Gb) single-die NAND flash memory

Introduced to Japan a high-definition TV upgradable to receive terrestrial digital broadcasts

Developed first-generation "Visconti™" image recognition processor (for automobile rear-view monitoring systems)

Joined United Nation's Global Compact

Joined United Nation's Global Compact

Developed an 0.85-inch hard-disk drive, the world's smallest

Introduced a 4-gigabit (Gb) single-die NAND flash memory

Delivered the world's fastest ultra-high-speed elevator

Closed Yanagicho Works

Closed Yanagicho Works

Developed a quick charge rechargeablle batter that charges to 80% of capacity in one minute

Announced details of "Cell Broadband Engine™", co-developed with IBM, Sony Corporation, and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc

Developed 8-gigabit NAND flash memory chip, using 70nm process technology, with SanDisk

Acquired Westinghouse's nuclear power business

Acquired Westinghouse's nuclear power business

Commercialized the world's first HD DVD players and recorders

Commercialized AV notebook PC with HD DVD drive

Commercialized the "SCiB™" the Super Charge ion Battery

Commercialized "Aquilion ONE™", 320-slice Dynamic Volume CT system that can capture complete images of the heart or brain in only one rotation

Released the "REGZA" ZH7000 series, the world's first LCD TVs with super-resolution imaging technology

Raised funds by public offering

Raised funds by public offering

Acquired HDD business from Fujitsu Ltd.

Acquired HDD business from Fujitsu Ltd.

Released the "CELL REGZA 55X1", the world's first LCD TV integrating the "Cell Broadband Engine™"

Commercialized the world's first 3D LCD TV not requiring dedicated glasses

Acquired Landis+Gyr AG and its group of companies

Acquired Landis+Gyr AG and its group of companies

Closed Hino Works

Closed Hino Works

LED lighting installed in the Louvre Museum in Paris

Toshiba Tec Corporation acquired the retail store solutions business of US-based IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) 

Closed Kitakyushu Works

Closed Kitakyushu Works

Completed Lazona Kawasaki Toshiba Building

Completed Lazona Kawasaki Toshiba Building

Commercialized world's first Glasses-free 3D medical display

Toshiba Science Museum renewal opening

Toshiba Science Museum renewal opening

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The exposure of inappropriate accounting problems in 2015, and subsequent massive deficits in the overseas nuclear power business, damaged Toshiba's reputation and plunged it into the most serious crisis since its founding. The company responded with transfers of the home appliance, audiovisual, medical equipment, and memory business, transforming its business portfolio from that of a general electrical contractor to focus on the energy, infrastructure, and electronic devices segments. In 2018, Toshiba introduced the “Essence of Toshiba,” which restated its long-standing basic commitment, “Committed to People, Committed to the Future.”. A statement of “Our Purpose” confirmed Toshiba’s reason for being, “We turn on the promise of a new day.” while “Our Values” underlined four guiding principles for action.

By integrating knowledge and achievements in manufacturing cultivated over the many years since its founding with information processing, digital, and AI technologies, Toshiba is developing cyber-physical systems (CPS) as a base for further business development. The company’s focus is on advances in crucial areas: the realization of carbon neutrality and resilient infrastructure in the infrastructure services segment; and sustaining social and information infrastructure in the devices segment. Moving forward, Toshiba will provide high value-added products and services, drive forward the digital transformation of business, and promote evolution that secures continued growth.

The Essence of Toshiba

Announced the Toshiba Rebuilding Initiative

Announced the Toshiba Rebuilding Initiative

Developed Independent Energy Supply System"H2One"
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Transferred all shares of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation  (now Canon Medical Systems Corporation.)
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Transferred all shares of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation  (now Canon Medical Systems Corporation.)
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Transferred shares of Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services Corporation to Midea Group Co., Ltd.
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Complete World’s First Rotating Gantry with Superconducting Technology for Heavy-ion Radiotherapy System
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Shipped for the world’s first direct-fired supercritical oxy-combustion CO2 power cycle demonstration plant
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Deconsolidated Westinghouse Group from Toshiba Group
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Deconsolidated Westinghouse Group from Toshiba Group
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Sold all shares of Landis+Gyr in an IPO
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Sold all shares of Landis+Gyr in an IPO
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Opened "Integrated Hydrogen Application Center" at Fuchu Complex
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Split off in-house companies

Split off in-house companies

Demoted to the Second Section of the Tokyo and Nagoya Stock Exchanges

 Closed Ome Complex
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Closed Ome Complex
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Developed and installed the world's first practical multi-parameter phased array weather radar
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Started sample shipments of world's first 14-terabyte nearline CMR HDD
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Announced the Toshiba Next Plan
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Announced the Toshiba Next Plan
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Transferred shares of Toshiba Visual Solutions Corporation (now TVS REGZA Corporation) to Hisense Group
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Transferred all shares of Formerly Toshiba Memory Corporation (now KIOXIA Corporation)
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Transferred all shares of Formerly Toshiba Memory Corporation (now KIOXIA Corporation)
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Transferred shares of Toshiba Client Solutions Co., Ltd. (now Dyna book Inc. ) to Sharp Corporation
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Developed a protocol that extended quantum key distribution(QKD) to over 500km, the  world's longest distance; first to achieve a real-world QKD rate of over 10Mbps

Developed microRNA technology that requires only a small blood sample to detect 13 types of cancer with 99% accuracy
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Developed an epoch-making algorithm (called a simulated bifurcation machine) that enables the world's fastest and largest combinatorial optimization
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Developed high-precision solar power generation prediction technology using Toshiba's unique AI algorithm

Developed a tandem solar cell using transparent cuprous oxide (Cu2O) with a power generation efficiency surpassing that of pure silicon solar cells
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Reinstated to the First Section of the Tokyo and Nagoya Stock Exchanges
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Closed Fukaya Complex

Closed Fukaya Complex

Launched Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) system business
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Developed a film-based perovskite solar cell with an energy conversion efficiency of 15.1%, the  world's highest
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Transferred shares of Toshiba Carrier Corporation
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Closed Fukaya Complex