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Tokyo Period - Establishment of Toshiba

Toshiba originated in a small shop-cum-factory in Ginza.

Toshiba's history begins in the telegraph factory Hisashige built in Ginza.

Ad for Tanaka Engineering Works
Reference:
Ad for Tanaka Engineering Works [National Science Museum]

In 1872, Hisashige received a request from his apprentice Seisuke Tanaka urging him to come to Tokyo. The government needed every technician it could obtain to work on expanding the country's telegraph system, and Hisashige's expertise was sorely required. When he arrived in the capital, he opened a factory and set to work manufacturing the Henry telegraph. This machine was equal in quality to any import from abroad, and its excellence came to the notice of the government.

Then, on July 11, 1875, Hisashige opened a new shop-cum-factory in the Ginza district, an area dominated by red-brick structures. This date marks the founding of Toshiba as it exists today. Hisashige went on to manufacture telegraph equipment as well as other devices, such as the Hoji-ki, an instrument that emitted a time signal at noon. In 1881, he died of old age in his eighty-second year. A dreamer to the last, he had led a productive life in the never-ending pursuit of new inventions.

Upon his death, his apprentice Daikichi Tanaka succeeded to his business as Hisashige II; in 1882 Daikichi founded Tanaka Engineering Works; later Shibaura Engineering Works, in Shibaura. The foundations of today's Toshiba were fully established.

Hisashige's factory in its early days (located at what is now Ginza 8-chome in Chuo Ward)

Hisashige's factory in its early days (located at what is now Ginza 8-chome in Chuo Ward)

Hoji-ki

Hoji-ki
[collection of Communications Museum]

Shibaura Engineering Works

Reference:
Shibaura Engineering Works
[photo reproduced from An Illustrated History of Japanese Culture, Vol. 11, Meiji]

Hisashige's life coincided exactly with the era in which Japan shook off the stifling bonds of the past and advanced along the path of modernization. The restless curiosity and passion that he bequeathed to Toshiba still live on today in the heart and soul of the company.

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