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Firsts of Their Kinds

Toshiba has developed numerous pioneering electronic products that represented firsts of their kind in Japan or anywhere in the world. This site will introduce some highlights, with development backdrops and behind-the-scenes accounts.
Are any of the products familiar to you?


1921 Trial Production of the World's First Double-Coil Bulb

A world-class invention rivaling Edison's carbon bulb, Coolidge's drawn-wire tungsten bulb, and Langmuir's gas-filled bulb.

1921 Double-Coil Bulb

1925 World's First Frosted Light Bulbs

An invention of global importance, on a par with the drawn-wire tungsten bulb developed by Dr. Coolidge and the gas-filled bulb developed by Dr. Langmuir.

1925 Frosted Light Bulbs

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1941 World's Largest Hydropower Generating Units Installed on the Yalu River

Contract awarded for water turbines and generators for the Supung Power Station in 1938 amid rising political tensions at home and abroad.

1941 Hydropower Generating Units Installed on the Yalu River

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1959 World's First Helical Scan Video Tape Recorder

Toshiba made a major contribution to the growth of Japan's economy in the 1980's with its helical scan videotape recorder which are in use around the world by hundreds of millions.

1959 Helical Scan Video Tape Recorder

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1967 World's First Large-Capacity Static Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)

Large-capacity power supply was made possible by the development of a power semiconductor device called a thyristor.

1967 Large-Capacity Static Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

1967 World's First Mail Processing Equipment

Labor mechanized by the world's first automatic postal code reading and sorting device that could recognize handwritten characters, which led to development of labor-saving machines for an advanced information society which was soon to come.

1967 Mail Processing Equipment

1968 World's First Set-Free Room Air Conditioner

Testing started with a cardboard model. A room at the division director's home flooded with water during practical testing.

1968 Set-Free Room Air Conditioner

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1971 World's First Largely Integrated-circuit Color Television

A color TV incorporating the latest electronic technologies attracted attention by offering infrequent breakdowns, low energy consumption, and stable television images.

1971 Largely Integrated-circuit Color Television

1972 World's First Black-stripe Color Cathode-ray Tube

Clearer and brighter – an innovative product incorporating a world-standard color cathode-ray tube.

1972 Black-stripe Color Cathode-ray Tube

1973 World's First One-Tube Color Camera for Consumer Use

The world's first helical VTR led to the development of the frequency interleaving camera tube.

1973 One-Tube Color Camera for Consumer Use

1975 World's First Microcomputer-Based Digital Controller

Digital control contributes to energy saving, pollution prevention, and productivity increases in all industries.

1975 Microcomputer-Based Digital Controller

1976 World's First Microcomputer for Automotive Engine

Ford unexpectedly sends Toshiba request to join project related to the US Clean Air Act.

1976 Microcomputer for Automotive Engine

1976 World's First High-Resolution Electronic Scanning Type Ultrasound Diagnostic Equipment

Toshiba's development of an original electronic linear scanning system for the abdominal region and an electronic sector scanning system for the heart provided greatly improved resolution compared with conventional products.

1976 Ultrasound Diagnostic Equipment

1977 World's First SAW Device for TV Receivers

SAW devices surpassed LC filters in performance but realizing their practical use was difficult. Single-crystal growth technology and unique filter design opened the door to production.

1977 SAW Device for TV Receivers

1979 World's First Vector-Control Inverter

The desire to control AC motors as freely as DC motors is fulfilled by using vector operation, opening up a new era of AC variable-speed motor drives.

1979 Vector-Control Inverter

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1980 World's First Bulb-Type Fluorescent Lamp, “Neo Ball™“ (Ball-shaped)

An important point was how small we could go. We finally succeeded in fitting Neo Ball in a ball-shaped glass with a diameter of 110 mm.

1980 Bulb-type Fluorescent Lamp, “Neo Ball” (Ball-shaped)

1980 World's First Microprocessor-Based Numerical Relay

Through active research on a numerical protection relay incorporating a microcomputer both in Japan overseas, Toshiba commercialized the world's first microprocessor-based numerical current differential protection relay.

1980 Microprocessor-Based Numerical Relay

1981 World's First Residential Inverter Air Conditioner

Initial stage of development saw many compressors broken when used with inverter.
Engineers gave up summer holidays and worked naked in the heat, making prototypes and checking their performance.

1981 Residential Inverter Air Conditioner

1983 World's First Inverter-Controlled High-Speed Gearless Elevator

Inverter control was an essential condition for achieving smooth riding comfort in high-speed AC motor-driven elevators.

1983 Inverter-Controlled High-Speed Gearless Elevator

1985 World's First Non-latchup IGBT

Outside-the-box thinking leads to a solution for the latchup problem during development of the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT).

1985 Non-latchup IGBT

1985 World's First Laptop PC

Combining expertise to pursue portability, smaller size, and power saving, Toshiba pioneers laptop PCs, creating a new market.

1985 Laptop PC

1985 World's First Successful Test of the Light-Triggered Thyristor in an Actual Transmission Line System

The light-triggered thyristor, which does not require a power supply for its insulated gate, is a key device in the field of power electronics.

1985 The light-triggered thyristor

1985 World's First Red Laser Capable of Continuous Oscillation at Room Temperature

After developing the world's first red laser capable of continuous oscillation at room temperature, Toshiba again became a global pioneer the following year by developing the transverse mode control structure for application to optical discs.

1985 red laser capable

1989 World's First Large-Capacity Ultra-Supercritical-Pressure Steam Turbine

This historically significant technology was featured in “A Century of Power Engineering” in Power Engineering International magazine.

1989 Large-Capacity Ultra-Supercritical-Pressure Steam Turbine

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1990 World's First Adjustable-Speed Pumped-Storage Generating System

The technology of the adjustable-speed hydroelectric generator, which had been developed 60 years before, was revived as the world's first adjustable-speed pumped-storage generating system.

1990 Adjustable-Speed Pumped-Storage Generating System

1990 World's First LCD TVs with Overdrive Technology

Toshiba's overdrive technology, which reduces the image lag of LCDs and produces vivid pictures, was adopted for LCD TVs throughout the world.

1990 LCD TVs

1991 World's First NAND Flash Memory

The NAND flash memory created by Toshiba achieved a position as Japan's first global memory standard. Toshiba to use its own technologies to increase the capacity of NAND flash memory, receiving the Ichimura Industrial Award.

1991 NAND Flash Memory

1991 World's Largest 11MW Fuel Cell Power-generating Plant

Fuel cell power-generating plant receives a high evaluation for its high power-generating efficiency. Even better efficiency is achieved through polymer electrolyte fuel cells.

1991 11MW Fuel Cell Power-generating Plant

1993 World's First 550 kV Single-Break Gas Circuit Breaker

The development and practical application of high performance arc-extinguishing chamber of gas circuit breaker is a key technology to realize compact and high capacity substations, and they made it possible to transfer large power to urban area.

1993 Gas Circuit Breaker

1994 World's First Large-Capacity Gas-Insulated Transformer

275 kV-300 MVA large-capacity nonflammable transformers with high-pressure SF6 gas used for both insulating and cooling medium, have been completed.

1994 Transformer

1995 World's First Facsimile with a Cleanerless Process

Toshiba developed the ultimate electrophotographic technology used for copiers, facsimiles, etc., allowing more compact, maintenance-free laser printers to be realized that produced higher image quality.

1995 Facsimile

1996 World's First DVD Player

Toshiba acts as the leader of DVD standardization. The “fire tower” turns into a slim DVD player.

1996 DVD Player

1996 Completion of the first Advanced Boiling Water Reactor

Development and construction of ABWR facilities brings together the essence of the latest technologies. ABWRs will be the mainstay light water reactors in the 21st century.

1996 Completion of the first Advanced Boiling Water Reactor

1997 Commercialization of World's First Hard Disk Drive Equipped with GMR Head

The recording density and capacity of hard disk drives were dramatically improved by innovative GMR head and perpendicular magnetic recording technologies.

1997 HDD

1998 Practical Application of World's First Voice Synthesis System with High-Quality Sound

From the concept of voice coding, we developed a closed-loop learning method that automatically learned from voice data for the first time in the world and completed the world's preeminent voice synthesis method.

1998 Voice Synthesis System

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2004 World's First Variable-Cylinder Dual-Rotary Compressor

Fully utilizing precision processing technology, Toshiba was the first company in Japan to independently develop such compressors, leading the world in inverter technology and establishing the trend of compressors for air-conditioners.

2004 Compressor

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Toshiba Science Museum
2F Lazona Kawasaki Toshiba Bldg., 72-34, Horikawa-Cho, Saiwai-Ku, Kawasaki 212-8585, Japan

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