Complete History of Yamaha

Yamaha Corporation (ヤマハ株式会社 Yamaha kabushiki gaisha, /ˈjæməˌhɑː/; Japanese pronunciation: [jamaha]) is a Japanese multinational corporation and conglomerate that offers a wide range of products and services. The company is a component of the Nikkei 225 and is the world's largest piano manufacturer.

Its motorcycle division was separated in 1955 to form Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., and was initially an affiliate of the company, but later became independent, although Yamaha Corporation remains a major shareholder in Yamaha Motor.


Early History

Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. (currently Yamaha Corporation) was founded in 1887 as a reed organ manufacturer by Torakusu Yamaha in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture and officially registered as a legal entity on October 12, 1897. In 1900, the company began manufacturing pianos.

The first piano made in Japan was an upright piano made in 1900 by Torakusu Yamaha, founder of Nippon Gakki Co., Ltd. — later changed its name to Yamaha Corporation. The origin of this company as a manufacturer of musical instruments is still reflected in its logo, which is three interlocking tuning forks.

After World War II, Yamaha president Genichi Kawakami converted the rest of his equipment and the company's metallurgical expertise to manufacture motorcycles. A total of 125 Yamaha YA-1s (also known as Akatombo, "Red Dragonflies") were produced in the first year (1954), and were named in honor of Yamaha's founder.

The 125cc, single-cylinder two-stroke motorcycle was built according to the German DKW RT125 (which was also imitated by the post-war British ammunition manufacturer BSA and manufactured under the Bantam name, and manufactured by Harley-Davidson as the Hummer). In 1954, Yamaha Music School was officially founded. In 1955, the success of the YA-1 made the motorcycle division of this company officially separated to form Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd..

Yamaha has also grown to become the world's largest producer of musical instruments, producing pianos, mute pianos, drums, guitars, wind instruments, woodwind instruments, violins, viola, cello, and vibraphones, as well as being a producer of semiconductors, audio/visual, leading computer-related products, sports equipment, home furnishings, specialty metals and industrial robots. Yamaha officially launched the Yamaha CS-80 in 1977.

In 1983, Yamaha built the first commercially successful digital synthesizer, the Yamaha DX7.

In 1988, Yamaha produced the world's first CD recorder. Yamaha purchased Sequential Circuits in 1988. Yamaha also bought 51% of Korg's shares in 1987, but was eventually bought back by Korg in 1993.

Yamaha Ginza Building in Tokyo, Japan's largest musical instrument outlet, in 2010. The outlet includes a shopping area, concert hall and music studio.

In the late 1990s, Yamaha launched a series of battery-operated portable keyboards, under the names PSS and PSR. The Yamaha PSS-14 and PSS-15 keyboards are improvements over the Yamaha PSS-7 and are renowned for their short song demonstrations, selectable short phrases, funny sound effects, and distortion and hoarseness develops at several volume levels as the battery runs low.

In 2002, Yamaha officially closed its archery business which started in 1959. Six archers at five Olympics have won gold medals using Yamaha archery equipment.

In January 2005, Yamaha acquired German audio software manufacturer Steinberg from Pinnacle Systems. In July 2007, Yamaha purchased the shares held by the Kemble family in Yamaha-Kemble Music (UK) Ltd, the business unit selling professional audio equipment and Yamaha musical instruments in the United Kingdom.

The company was renamed Yamaha Music U.K. Ltd. in the fall of 2007. Kemble & Co. Ltd., the UK's piano production and sales business unit, was not affected.

On December 20, 2007, Yamaha entered into an agreement with Austrian BAWAG to purchase all shares of Bösendorfer, and it is planned for completion in early 2008. Yamaha intends to keep the Bösendorfer factory in Austria.

The acquisition of Bösendorfer was finally announced after the NAMM Show in Los Angeles, on January 28, 2008. Starting February 1, 2008, Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH also operates as a subsidiary of Yamaha Corp.

Yamaha Corporation is also known for its music training program which began in the 1950s. Yamaha products have proven to be successful, popular, and respected products. For example the Yamaha YPG-625 which received "Keyboard of the Year" and "Product of the Year" in 2007 from The Music and Sound Retailer magazine.

Another well-known Yamaha product is the SHS-10 Keytar, a retail keytar that offers MIDI output features, which can usually only be found on more expensive keyboards.

Other companies within the Yamaha Corporation group include:

  • Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH, Vienna, Austria.
  • Yamaha Fine Technologies Co., Ltd.
  • Yamaha Music Communications Co., Ltd.
  • Yamaha Pro Audio

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