One of three brand names produced by Matsushita Electric Industrial Company: the other two are National appliances (predominantly sold in Japan) and Technics musical instruments (predominantly sold in Canada). It got its start in 1918, when founder Matsushita Konosuke made the world's first two-socket light fixture. He started an appliance company that branched out into radio and iron production during the late twenties and early thirties. In 1935, Matsushita became an overseas trading company in an effort to better sell its products overseas.

The company survived World War II, and emerged in 1945 relatively unscathed. In 1952, Matsushita started a joint venture with Philips called Matsushita Electronics Corporation. Then, in 1959, fueled by capital from the consumer appliance boom in Japan, Matsushita began business in the United States as the Matsushita Electronics Corporation of America. They were listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1971. Philips sold its 35% stake to Matsushita in 1993 for $1.5 billion, so Panasonic is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Matsushita.

Panasonic makes every electronic device known to man, from electric shavers to digital TV's.

Matsushita's headquarters are in Kadoma, Osaka, Japan. Its American headquarters are in Secaucus, New Jersey. Matsushita's three brand names together bring in (deep breath now) $58 billion a year. Crazy, innit?

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