Photographed with Panasonic products when Life magazine interviewed Matsushita in 1964.
When the new sales system was being implemented, Matsushita asked the sales companies and distributors to make more requests to Panasonic. He told them it was their duty to press Panasonic into building better products that would satisfy their purchasers. He also strongly urged the company's manufacturing divisions to develop new hit products.
This encouragement led to a series of popular products beginning in the latter half of 1965, including console stereos and speakers, a fully automatic washing machine and a console TV. The low-income, low-earnings period had ended the year before, and the new sales system provided a solid foundation for the company's next phase of growth.
From 1966 onwards, the Japanese economy entered another period of rapid expansion, growing at an annual rate of 10%. By 1968, it had become the world's second largest free economy in terms of GNP; it was on the road to becoming an economic superpower.
The economic growth was affecting people's attitudes and life-styles. In 1966, consumers measured their standard of living by what were popularly termed as the three Cs: a car, an air conditioner and a color television. Technical innovation had brought the air conditioner and color television into production at Panasonic, as well as the microwave oven, the cassette recorder and the consumer VCR. All these new products, combined with the opening of many new showrooms nationwide, erection of neon signs and billboards, and anticipation of consumer needs, raised the company's sales by 30% over the previous year.
Photo: the company's first microwave oven for business use
The first microwave oven for home use was placed on the market in 1966. It was a compact, vertical-type microwave oven requiring only a small space. While needing only a small amount of power input (1.65 kVA), it provided output equal to the largest in its class (700 W). It could be used in any place where there was a power source of 100 volts.
What occurred in the development of this product was that microwave ovens came to be used in virtually all restaurants in 1966 from limited installation, only in exclusive restaurants and large hotels. More particularly, they became indispensable for bakeries. In addition, there were growing expectations for a more casual and easier use of microwave ovens in home kitchens.