The History of TEAC
TEAC Corporation was originally founded as Tokyo Television Acoustic Company on August 26th, 1953 by two brothers, Katsuma and Tomoma Tani. In 1956 the two brothers founded Tokyo Electro-Acoustic Company, finally merging those firms in 1964 to form today’s TEAC Corporation. TEAC’s very first original production model, the TD-102, went on sale in April 1957. And here’s the story behind it:
In 1957, two Americans came to visit the newly established Tokyo Electronic Acoustic Company. They were the CEO and the chief engineer of a big radio manufacturer called Lafayette Radio Electronics. When Tani showed them the prototype for the TD-102, they said “Add a playback amp, turn it into a tape player, change the casing to a cabinet and we‘ll take it!”. And with that, they ordered 25 units. While happy to receive such a great bulk order, there wasn‘t anyone at the company at the time to configure the amps… So according to legend, staff had to work flat out for 72 hours straight to complete the order in time. But their hard work paid off: The TD-102 crossed over into the US market and quickly became a favorite amongst audio fans.
However, even after that first big order from Lafayette, few new orders came through. At the time, the extremely high price of a TD-102 (JPY60,000 in a time when the starting salary of a graduate bank clerk was JPY15,000) coupled with the fact that vinyl records were the standard of the day – meant that TEAC was slightly too far ahead of the curve that would one day see tape as the default playback and recording format. But nevertheless, this was not the end of the story around our TD-102.
In April 1958, an engineer from the radio manufacturing firm, Philco called Bretz heard about the TD-102 and came to visit the factory. After exclaiming, “You’ve got such amazing products! Why don’t you tell anyone about them?”, Bretz invited TEAC to perform a demonstration of their products at the Far East Audio Club that he managed on the Tachikawa military base. So TEAC brought 50 TD-102 units to demonstrate and in the end they were all bought with cash on the spot. Tani said later, “It was so busy at the factory after that, there would be fancy imported cars parked outside the shabby factory in Sumida day after day, paying in advance for the TD-102. Mr Bretz really was like a God of Fortune for TEAC. He taught us what it meant to do business. He also gave TEAC a vote of confidence for overseas buyers, sewing the seed for future overseas expansion.”
After the TD-102’s initial success, TEAC’s open-reel tape decks gained wide commercial notoriety when an influential American consumer magazine, Consumer’s report, listed it as no.5 out of 17 tried and tested audio products. When Tani heard this he said, “No matter how difficult it is, if you make a technically superior product, it will gain recognition”. It was this strength of conviction that formed the backbone of TEAC’s mission statement “It is from our ability to produce the best products in the world that we derive our reason for being”.