Toshiba is a Japanese electronics company. It is short for Tokyo Shibaura Denki, the name of the company produced when two Japanese electronics giants, Tanaka Seizosho (established 1875) and Tokyo Denki (established 1890) merged in 1939. This new company was nicknamed ‘Toshiba’, and the company eventually adopted this name formally in 1984.
Today, the company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of TVs, DVD players and laptop computers, among other things, and the world’s third largest manufacturer of computer chips. It focuses on digital equipment above all else, announcing in 2004 that it will no longer produce old-fashioned CRT TVs, switching instead to only manufacturing LCDs.
Generally, and similarly to other Japanese electronics manufacturers, Toshiba’s market position is that it is not cheap, but instead produces high-quality, well-designed products. Outsourcing has dented this reputation with some companies in recent years (notably Sony), but Toshiba’s reputation still holds strong – they do outsource, but make sure to only choose high-quality manufacturers when they do.
Today, Toshiba is investing heavily in next-generation versions of several technologies, including HD-DVD (high density DVD, a DVD that can hold much higher-quality movies that current discs can) and SED (a display technology that is widely seen as the likely successor to LCD).
However, Toshiba has also seen its fair share of controversy, which makes some reluctant to buy its products. In the ‘80s, Toshiba sold equipment to produce quiet submarines to the Soviet Union, prompting a diplomatic crisis between the US and Japan and the arrest of two Toshiba executives. Most recently, Toshiba bought Westinghouse, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of nuclear reactors, hoping to cash in on many countries’ plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, and earning them the ire of environmental groups, who went as far as to hold a demonstration outside Toshiba’s headquarters.