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about Toshiba

A long history of leading innovation

Hisashige Tanaka: The genius of mechanical wonders

Born in 1799, Hisashige Tanaka made an early name for himself with creations that included mechanical dolls and a perpetual clock. Later in life he invented revolutionary chronometers, gas lamps and steam engines, firmly establishing himself as one of Japan's brightest minds. In 1873, the Japanese government recruited Hisashige to work on the country's expanding telegraph system. He answered the call and two years later established a shop in the Ginza district of Tokyo that formally launched today's Toshiba. Always a dreamer, Hisashige continued to pursue new inventions until his death in 1881. His company went on to become the Shibaura Engineering Works, a pioneering manufacturer of telegraph equipment and electrical devices.

View an interactive gallery of Hisashige's inventions. »

Learn about the national effort to restore Hisashige's perpetual clock. »


Ichisuke Fujioka: the father of electricity

The other half of Toshiba's origin can be found with Ichisuke Fujioka, known as the father of electricity in Japan. Ichisuke was born in 1857, the eldest son of a samurai. An early scientific prodigy, Ichisuke studied telegraphy and lighting, and later had the honor of lighting Japan's first arc lamp. After meeting Thomas Edison in 1884, Ichisuke pledged to devote himself to establishing a power industry in Japan. He started the Hakunetsu–sha company in 1890 and manufactured Japan's first economical, durable light bulb. Ichisuke also constructed an electric railway and introduced electric power to the entire nation, earning the nickname "the Thomas Edison of Japan." His company was renamed Tokyo Electric and continued to flourish after his death in 1918.

See a timeline of Ichisuke's accomplishments. »


Toshiba is born

In 1939, the legacies of Hisashige and Ichisuke came together when Shibaura Engineering Works and Tokyo Electric, leaders in their respective fields, merged to form an integrated electric equipment manufacturer. The Tokyo Shibaura Electric Company officially changed its name to Toshiba in 1984. Today Toshiba continues to be fueled by the same curiosity and spirit that inspired its legendary founders.

130 years of firsts

Since its inception Toshiba has strived to develop technologies that would benefit the world. Over the past 130 years Toshiba has introduced a number of revolutionary firsts in Japan, including incandescent lamps (1890), X–ray tubes (1915), radio transmission tubes (1919), the double–coil light bulb (1921), cathode ray tubes (1924), radar (1942), transistor televisions (1959) and notebook computers (1989).

Toshiba's historical focus on research and development has brought countless new ideas to life.

See a full range of Toshiba firsts by viewing an interactive timeline of Toshiba's historical achievements. »

Delivering the future. Today!

Toshiba's passion for the future lives on today, and the company continues to develop leading–edge technologies designed to enrich lives and improve the world. Recent innovations include the 8–gigabit flash memory chip and the world's first HD DVD players. Backed by forward–looking corporate strategies and responsible business practices, Toshiba honors the spirit of founders Hisashige and Ichisuke by striving to create a higher quality of life for all people.

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