President Yamashita introduces himself to the Board of Directors.
Panasonic renewed its top management in February 1977 with the aim of mobilizing the company's resources to effectively deal with the economic turbulence and changing domestic and international situation. Arataro Takahashi was replaced by Masaharu Matsushita as chairman, and Toshihiko Yamashita became the new company president.
Yamashita wasted no time in identifying critical areas and addressing the severest of problems. He stressed the importance of the company recovering its profitability and maintaining adequate profit margins. His policy was to return to the foundations of the corporate division system and to make sure that the divisions maintained their profitability. At the beginning of 1978, he strongly advocated a policy of encouraging personnel exchange. He believed that such a policy would activate the company's organizational structure, making it as tight and responsive as a drumhead.
President Yamashita at the Tsukamoto factory of the Rice Cooker Division.
President Yamashita with Indonesian employees at the 27th Sports Festival.
President Yamashita at the opening of the Katano Matsushita Plant.
Panasonic began basic research in video technology in 1953, commercializing its first professional and consumer models in 1964. In 1976, the company began selling the VX2000 VCR manufactured by Matsushita Kotobuki Electronic Industries.
Meanwhile, Panasonic and the Japan Victor Corporation (JVC), a Panasonic subsidiary, jointly developed the VHS recording scheme on the basis of proposals from JVC, and the system was widely hailed for its advanced technology. One reason for the success of VHS was close cooperation among VHS equipment manufacturers that ensured equipment compatibility as consumer video demand began to swell.
Panasonic released its MacLord brand of VHS video cassette recorders in 1977, which featured long recording time and bright, clear images.
The company was also making efforts to market its VHS system video equipment abroad. In February 1977, President Masaharu Matsushita went to the United States for direct negotiations with the top U.S. consumer electronics makers that led to a long-term VHS video equipment supply agreement with RCA. Soon after, General Electric joined the VHS manufacturers group.
By 1983, Panasonic had already produced 10 million VCRs, and its Video Division accounted for a large proportion of the company's sales. The VHS system was gradually getting the upper hand in the divided video market, and by 1987 had clearly become the worldwide standard.
VCR production line at the Okayama Plant.
Panasonic and RCA sign a long-term supply contract for VHS-format VCRs.
Photo: the company's first VHS video tape recorder,
The first VHS home video, with outstanding features of long recording capability and clear and sharp screen image, was put on the market in 1977. The "2-to-4-hour VHS VTR", the VBT200, was developed in the same year to meet the consumer desire to record full-length broadcasts of American football games, an improvement over the recording time of 2 hours with the conventional VHS system.
The company actively talked with overseas companies to obtain OEM customers for the VHS video recorders. In February 1977, President Masaharu Matsushita visited leading manufacturers in the U.S. to have direct talks with their representatives. Then in March, RCA made an offer and it was decided that Panasonic would supply RCA with VHS-type Video Cassette Recorders built to RCA's specifications.
The development of a VTR capable of recording for long hours prompted many manufacturers in the world to adopt the VHS system, which became the standard format for the home VTR.
The R-012 was a radio that was thin enough to fit into a shirt pocket. It was developed in 1977 using a new mounting technique and the creation of ultra-thin components.
It had a thickness of 12.7 mm, 1/3 the conventional thickness, and helped develop the market for pocket radios.