NEC – Persistence In The Face of Adversity

NEC was brought into the world as Nippon Electric Limited Partnership in 1898 by Kunihiko Iwadare, the representative partner, and Takeshiro Maeda, overseeing company sales. After a partnership was formed with the Western Electric Company, represented by Walter Tenney Carleton, NEC became the first Japanese company joint venture using foreign investments. This established Iwarare, Maeda, and Carleton as the fathers of NEC.

Continued Growth Despite Economy

Beginning with the production, sales, and maintenance of telephones and switches, growth was slow even with technology interest from the Ministry of Communications. By 1907, the number of Japanese telephone subscribers was only 95,000; however exportation of phones to China and entrance into the Korean market helped company growth. By 1912, sales were at an all time high 2 million yen. This boom was short lived due to a delayed expansion, which resulted in a sales dive of 60%. In 1916, the Ministry of Communications finally approved the expansion plan, allowing NEC to grow at a time when most Japanese businesses were declining.

Brief Shakeup

This period of prosperity was short lived however, due to the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. The massive damage to Japan did not exclude NEC; 4 factories were destroyed in the quake, killing 105 engineer and workers. Other offices were demolished as well as service across the country disrupted. From this tragedy came advancements to telecommunications commissioned by the Ministry of Communications who authorized accelerated programs to get telecommunication back on track.

Problems for NEC continued with the onset of World War II when plants were placed under military control in 1938. Capital and relations were quickly cut off and factories were operated strictly by the military, resulting in many factories and plants being bombed due to governmental use. Once the war had ended, NEC was slowly returned to civilian control.

Survive & Prosper

After this period of external plight, NEC began an impressive expansion concerning business, ventures, and services. With expansion going global in the sixties and seventies, NEC reached the United States in 1978, opening a telephone system branch in Dallas, Texas.