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As Seen On

The History of Panasonic

Panasonic Corporation, once known as Matsushita Electrical Industrial Company Limited, is a multinational producer of electronics, with its headquarters in Osaka, Japan. Founded in 1918, the company was initially concerned with the production of light bulb sockets but is now one of a host of electronics giants from Japan alongside Toshiba, Canon Inc, Hitachi and Sony.

The company is the 4th biggest producer of Televisions and is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as well as on the Nikkei 225, the TOPIX Indices and the Nagoya Stock Exchange. 

1950s-1970s
During the years between the 1950s and the 1970s, Panasonic wasn’t able to trade in North America under this name, as the trademark was already used by the National Radio Company, which was in a similar field of manufacturing. Away from North America, the company sold VHS Video Recorders, HiFi Stereo Receivers, and multi-band radios. This was a period of rapid growth for Panasonic, resulting in the creation of manufacturing plants across the globe.

Large Employer
At its height in 2010, Panasonic employed close to 400,000 people across the world and whilst this figure has reduced to a more modest 250,000, it is still one of the biggest employers of people in the world today.

Organisation
The operation of the company is conducted through 3 broad fields of business:

  • Consumer
  • Solutions
  • Components and devices

This is then split up into 9 separate domain companies:

  • AVC Networks
  • Eco Solutions
  • Appliances
  • Industrial Devices
  • Systems and Communications
  • Automotive Systems
  • Energy
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing Solutions

The company invests many millions of pounds each year on research and development, typically spending around 6% of their annual revenues on it. As a result, the Corporation owns hundreds of thousands of worldwide patents. Panasonic is currently exploring the field of Artificial Intelligence, something that may come to the fore in the coming years.

Current Computing Products
The company has been involved in various parts of computer manufacturing over the years and whilst they do currently still offer computers, they are largely specific, robust devices for use in industry rather than the consumer market.

In 1996, the company launched the ToughBook range of laptops, which are still going strong today. The models they produce are resistant to vibration, extreme temperature, spills, being dropped and general rough handling. This makes them ideal for construction, government, law enforcement, manufacturing and healthcare purposes - basically anywhere that being robust is an advantage.

Panasonic also now produces ToughPads, which are what their marketing refers to as a ‘Ruggedized’ tablets. Their mobile computer range is also designed to fail on a much less frequent basis than typical business laptops, which is a real advantage in many types of industry.

Innovators
This company is just one of a raft of huge electronics giants from the Far East that have driven consumer devices to levels unthought of just a few years ago. Where they will be and what they will create over the next 20 years is anyone’s guess, but it’s going to interesting finding out.

The History of Freescale Semiconductor Incorporated

Freescale Semiconductor Inc (FSI) was a public company that was once part of the electronics giant, Motorola. In 2004, it broke away from the parent company and had its headquarters in the United States, in Austin, Texas.

As the company name hints to, FSI was primarily concerned with the designing and retailing of semiconductor products that it exported to 19 countries around the world. Before being bought out by NXP Semiconductors in 2015, the company had an impressive 17,000 staff on the payroll, spread across the globe.

The Origin
Freescale was something of a pioneer in their field, as it was one of the very first semiconductor manufacturers around. The company began as Motorola’s semiconductor arm, in the late 1940s and its main operation at the time was the creation of transistors for use in car radios. The components they produced for this purpose represent the first example of mass produced semiconductor hardware.

Having spent the majority of its existence as a subdivision of the larger company, it gained autonomy in the Spring of 2004.

NASA Space Program
In the 60s, space exploration was the vogue and the US had a singular goal, to be the first to land on the moon and return safely. Towards the end of the decade, NASA was a significant consumer of the devices that the company produced and many hundreds of their employees were tasked with the development of semiconductor devices for a wide array of ground control and ship applications.

One such piece of hardware was the data link equipment that the Apollo missions used to communicate with the ground. It was so advanced that it allowed for voice and TV signals to be transmitted to and from space, which famously saw Jim Lovell talking on a live TV broadcast from on board the orbiting spacecraft.

NXP Acquisition
Before Freescale ceased to be, it was a major manufacturer of electronic products for a wide array of industries, including the medical industry, telecommunications, computer hardware and even ‘accelerator’ technology used to detect motion (used in the games console market).

In its last year of trading, the company posted revenues in excess of $4.5 billion, which made it a very attractive proposition to NXP. They purchased Freescale for just shy of $16.7 billion. And that was it...Freescale was no more.

It still lives on, but as part of NXP, which became worth around $45 billion as a result of the merger, routinely generating 10s of billions every year,

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