Toshiba has developed numerous pioneering electric and electronic products that represented firsts of their kind in Japan or anywhere in the world. It all started in 1875 with the establishment of Tanaka Seizo-sho, Japan's first manufacturer of telegraphic equipment. Its founder, Hisashige Tanaka (1799 - 1881), was well known from his youth for inventions that included mechanical dolls and a perpetual clock. Under the name Shibaura Seisaku-sho, his company became one of Japan's largest manufacturers of heavy electrical apparatus.
In 1890, Hakunetsu-sha & Co., Ltd. was established as Japan's first plant for electric incandescent lamps and evolved as a manufacturer of consumer products. In 1899, the company was renamed Tokyo Denki. In 1939, these two companies merged to form an integrated electric equipment manufacturer, Tokyo Shibaura Denki (Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.). The company was soon well known as 'Toshiba,' which became its official name in 1978.