Toshiba's early history has two strands: 1875 saw the establishment of Tanaka Seizo-sho (Tanaka Engineering Works), Japan's first manufacturer of telegraphic equipment. Its founder, Hisashige Tanaka (1799 - 1881), was well known from his youth for inventions that included mechanical dolls and a perpetual clock. Under the name Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works), his company became one of Japan's largest manufacturers of heavy electrical apparatus. In 1890, Hakunetsu-sha & Co., Ltd. was established as Japan's first plant for electric incandescent lamps. Subsequent diversification saw the company evolve as a manufacturer of consumer products. In 1899, the company was renamed 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.