Who founded Panasonic?
Konosuke Matsushita founded Panasonic in 1918.
The evolution of Panasonic charts a quest for innovation that began in a tiny two-room tenement and has developed into one of the most successful electronics companies in the world. Our founder, Konosuke Matsushita, built his empire from the production of a revolutionary two-pronged light socket in 1918 and the desire to create things of value that improve lives. Through hard work and dedication, Matsushita’s small team produced one innovative product after another, gradually expanding from a household business to a small enterprise and over time growing into the global success story it is today.
Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita was born on November 27, 1894 in a farming village near Osaka, Japan. His father was a small landowner and prominent member of the community, and Konosuke, the youngest of eight children, enjoyed a comfortable early childhood. The family's fortunes turned, however, when his father lost his property as a result of poor speculation on the commodities market and the family was forced to leave their farm and move to a small house in the city. To help support the family, Konosuke was apprenticed to a bicycle store in Osaka a few months before he was to graduate from elementary school at the age of 9.
Watching the streetcars in Osaka, Konosuke developed an interest in the electronics business and joined Osaka Electric Light Company at the age of 15. It was there that, with his strong commitment, he soon became an inspector. At that time, he designed an improved light socket and built a sample, but his supervisor did not believe in his invention. Matsushita consequently left the company to start his own business.
In June 1917, Matsushita, his wife, and his brother-in-law Toshio Iue (who would later go on to found Sanyo Electric) set up a small shop in a tiny two-room tenement in eastern Osaka. They eventually produced the new socket, but could not sell it at all. Matsushita did not give up, however, and developed new and better products. Towards the end of the year, Matsushita received an order from a large manufacturer to produce insulation plates for electric fans. He worked quickly and carefully to fill the order. Repeat orders followed, giving him the capital he needed to put his socket and other wiring fixtures into mass production.
What were the first innovative products Panasonic manufactured?
The first innovative products were the improved attachment plug and the two-way socket.
In 1918, production started with fan insulator plates, but Matsushita was convinced that there was a huge untapped market for convenient, high-quality household electrical fixtures. He stayed up late at night refining his designs, ultimately choosing to manufacture two new products - an attachment plug and a two-way socket. They proved popular, as they were of higher quality than comparable products on the market and 30 to 50 percent cheaper.
An improved attachment plug was the very first product manufactured and put on the market upon the establishment of Matsushita Electric in 1918. The plug was made from a resin, and the design was new and unique in those days. Ideas, such as recycling the metal screw-in sections of used light bulbs, were put into practice to facilitate the production of high-precision products. By the end of 1918, the company employed 20 people. Today Panasonic employs roughly 260,000 people globally.
The company that was to become Panasonic was founded on March 7, 1918, when Konosuke Matsushita moved from his tiny dwelling to a larger two-story house and set up Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works. The staff consisted of three people: the 23-year-old Matsushita, 22-year-old Mumeno and her brother Toshio Iue, then just 15.
They converted the three rooms on the ground floor into a workshop, and installed two hand-operated presses for molding insulation. Although production started with fan insulator plates, Matsushita was convinced that there was a huge untapped market for convenient, high-quality household electrical fixtures. He stayed up late at night refining his designs, ultimately choosing to manufacture two new products: an attachment plug and a two-way socket. They proved popular, as they were of higher quality than other products on the market and were 50 percent cheaper. By the end of 1918, the company employed 20 people. Panasonic was founded on the desire to create things of value. As hard work and dedication resulted in one innovative product after another, the fledgling company took its first steps towards becoming the electronics giant of today.
The fixtures were initially sold through a single wholesale outlet, but this arrangement broke down when sales fell due to heavy price cutting by other manufacturers. As Matsushita began dealing directly with other wholesalers, however, sales grew and the company found itself on firm footing.
What does Panasonic stand for?
First it meant “universal sound”, now Panasonic is the global brand.
Panasonic is a company rich in tradition, dating back to its first incarnation 1918 as Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works. After a number of name changes as the scope and product range of the company broadened, "Panasonic" first appeared as branding on speakers produced in 1955 in Japan for foreign markets.
The brand name is comprised of the words "Pan" (a root word that means "all", "everything") and "Sonic" ("Sound") and over the years, as "Panasonic" was used to brand more AV products, consumers came to associate this name with the company.
In 2008, the company changed its name to "Panasonic Corporation" and in conjunction with this, the corporate brand was unified as "Panasonic" worldwide. With the company name change and global brand unification, the names of affiliate companies containing "Matsushita" or "National" were also changed to new names containing "Panasonic." Simultaneously, the brand name used for domestic white goods and housing equipment was gradually switched from "National" to "Panasonic."
The company was established as Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works in 1918, renamed Matsushita Electric Manufacturing Works in 1929, and then incorporated under the new name Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. in 1935. This was the first change since that time.
The company name change was announced in January 2008 and the decision formalized by a resolution of the general shareholders' meeting in June. Upon the resolution of the company name change and brand unification, President Fumio Ohtsubo declared his resolve by saying, "We will steadily strengthen the power of the Panasonic brand in the global arena by bringing together all activities of Panasonic Group employees and all the fruits of our labor under the name of Panasonic." In addition, he emphasized that the management philosophy of the founder Konosuke Matsushita would be unfailingly shared among and practiced by all employees."
Following unification of the corporate brand as "Panasonic" for domestic white goods that had previously been offered under the "National" brand, the brand name was gradually switched to "Panasonic" on new models of air conditioners, refrigerators, tilted drum type washer-dryers, and household cyclone cleaners, which were released in October of the same year.
What do all these consumer products have in common?
They made people’s lives better.
This is still the motto of today: Panasonic aims to support people and society by creating “A Better Life, A Better World”. For one hundred years Panasonic has pioneered ground-breaking innovations but our core beliefs are still closely aligned with those set down by our founder.
This remains the company’s motto to this day: Panasonic aims to serve people and society by creating “A Better Life, A Better World”. Panasonic has been pioneering groundbreaking innovations for one hundred years, but our core beliefs are still closely aligned with those established by our founder.
Konosuke Matsushita was a practical dreamer. He believed in creating products that would anticipate consumer’s needs and make their lives better. While many things have changed throughout the last century, Panasonic will always be passionate about creating products based on Matsushita’s idea that technology must have a reason for being, and that reason is to add value to your life.
We continue to approach product development today in the same ways as our founder Matsushita did 100 years ago. We look at things from the perspective of how society is evolving and what will benefit our customers. Listening to their wishes in this way will enable us to adapt and grow with changing needs in the future as well, especially as technology becomes more embedded in our lives; from the double attachment socket using recycled metal, to the metal screw-in sections of used light bulbs reused to facilitate the production of high precision products. While recycling may be commonplace today, it was this dedication to serving society and improving lives that has really contributed to Panasonic’s innovation over the last 100 years.
Major product innovations:
- 1927: Panasonic introduced its first ever household appliance, an electric iron
- 1937: Panasonic hairdryers have been popular around the world since the launch of the company’s first model
- 1952: Panasonic introduced its first TV
- 1958: Panasonic launched its first room air conditioner
- 1965: Panasonic launched its first product under the Technics brand
- 1977: Panasonic combined a convection and a microwave oven
- 1982: Panasonic introduced its first consumer video camera and portable recorder
- 2008: Panasonic launched Lumix G – the world’s first mirrorless camera, an invention that has dramatically changed photography
- 2018: Panasonic brings voice control to the car entertainment system
What was Matsushita’s motivation?
Serving society and making people’s lives better!
Founder Konosuke Matsushita had a clear vision for how to serve society and make a difference in people’s lives. His simple message was that if you want to change the world, you have to simply start with yourself. Key to all his personal success in building a global corporation and leader in electronics, thus becoming one of the most influential industrialists of the 20th century, is a heartfelt drive to understand society’s needs and improve the products while also constantly challenging himself.
Matsushita: “It is quite important to brace yourself mentally when confronting a situation. If you are too strained or too tense, mental fatigue might cause you to fail. This happens often. It might be a good idea, then, to adopt an easy-going attitude and think, ‘If I fail, I’ll try again’. An easy-going mind might foster the wisdom that leads you to success.”
Regarding business success, he also added: “A business won’t survive without profits. Still, profit is not the sole purpose of business. Improving people’s lives by creating goods needed for society or by wholeheartedly enhancing services is vitally important. After all, business is ultimately for the betterment of our society. That is the mission and value of every business. If business follows this mission with verve, it will become profitable by default, as a natural result of societal support.”
Two management books have been published in Japan by publishing house PHP Institute Inc. The sayings above are taken from these books: "Omoumama" ("The Way I Think") and "Matsushita Konosuke Ichinichi Ichiwa" ("A Saying a Day by Konosuke Matsushita").
Panasonic: 100 Years of Innovation
Panasonic was founded in 1918 by Konosuke Matsushita. That year, Panasonic introduced an improved attachment plug. Next was a double cluster socket that made it possible to power lights and appliances from a single source. The ideas may have appeared small, but the product provided a new dimension of comfort and opportunities being able to iron a shirt while having the light on. Since Panasonic’s launch 100 years ago, the company has constantly evolved to its current global scale with many milestones worth mentioning.See Timeline
What does Panasonic stand for ?
"Panasonic Industry in Europe is traditionally committed to delivering high quality standards to its customers. Our unique technological diversity offers customers entirely new, innovative solutions for the future."
"Panasonic Industry is a full-service provider to customers on the European B2B market, offering expertise from solution-finding through to delivery and aftersales service."Udo Berg, Executive Director European Marketing Division, Panasonic Electric Works Europe
"The industrial business in Europe offers enormous potential for Panasonic. Our aim is to create a comprehensive sales and marketing platform to establish ourselves as a reliable and innovative partner for our European customers."Winfried Neumayer, Division Director Industrial Sales, Panasonic Industry Europe
"Panasonic has enjoyed success on the market for the last century thanks to sustainable solutions such as rechargeable batteries, which meet customers' wishes in terms of safety, quality, reliability and eco-friendliness."Bernd Weinisch, Division Director Energy Solutions, Panasonic Industry Europe
"Panasonic Industry offers European customers solution competence based on bundled expertise in electronics manufacturing and a broad portfolio of products and services. Closeness to customers at a regional level is a top priority."Alexander Schultz-Storz, Division Director Solution Competence, Panasonic Industry Europe
"Panasonic Industry Europe relies on a network of dynamic partners and distributors who provide outstanding local customer service. And we are continuing to grow together regionally in a sustainable way."Rudolf Kammerer, Division Director Distribution Sales, Panasonic Industry Europe
"Panasonic is a trendsetter in the field of mobility, and will be a major player in shaping the automotive industry of the future with innovative components and systems."Ralph Büttner, Division Director Automotive Tier 1, Panasonic Industry Europe
"Panasonic supports the Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory trend with our cutting edge portfolio of Smart Factory Solutions. Customers in Europe benefit from our local Training Center close to Munich."Hiroyuki Nagai, President of Panasonic Factory Solutions Europe, Panasonic Industry Europe