Victor Company of Japan, Ltd (Nippon Bikutā Kabushiki-gaisha?) (TYO: 6792), usually referred to as JVC, is a Japanese international consumer and professional electronics corporation based in Yokohama, Japan which was founded in 1927. The company is best known for introducing Japan's first televisions, and developing the VHS video recorder.
1920s – 1960s
JVC was founded in 1927 as "The Victor Talking Machine Company of Japan, Limited" as a subsidiary of the United States' leading phonograph and record company, the Victor Talking Machine Company. In 1929 majority ownership was transferred to RCA-Victor. In the 1930s JVC produced phonographs and records, but in 1932 JVC started producing radios, and in 1939 they introduced Japan's first TV. JVC severed relations with its foreign partners during World War II, and was majority owned by Matsushita (Panasonic Corp.) from 1953 to Aug 2007. Finally it became JVC Kenwood Holdings in 2008 after Panasonic (Matsushita) decided to spin off the company and it was merged with Kenwood Electronics.
1970s – 1980s
In 1970, JVC marketed the Videosphere, a modern portable CRT television inside a space helmet shaped casing with an alarm clock at the base. It was a commercial success.
In 1971, JVC introduced the first discrete system for four channel quadraphonic sound sound on vinyl records - CD-4 (Compatible Discrete Four Channel) or Quadradisc, as it was called by RCA in the U.S. In 1976 JVC introduced the 3060, a 3" portable television with an included cassette player.
VC developed the VHS format, and introduced the first VHS recorders to the consumer market in 1977 for the equivalent of US $1060. Sony who had introduced the Betamax home videocassette tape a year earlier, became the main competitor to JVC's VHS into the 1980s creating the videotape format war. The Betamax cassette was smaller with slightly superior quality to the VHS cassette, but this resulted in Betamax having less recording time. By 1984, forty companies utilized the VHS format in comparison with Betamax's twelve. Sony tacitly conceded defeat in 1988 when they also began producing VHS recorders.
In 1979, JVC demonstrated a prototype of their VHD/AHD disc system. This system was capacitance-based like CED, but the discs were grooveless with the stylus being guided by servo signals in the disc surface. The VHD discs were initially handled by the operator and played on a machine that looked like an audio LP turntable, but JVC used caddy housed discs when the system was marketed. Development was interrupted continually, but in April 1983 it was first marketed in Japan, and then in the UK in 1984 to a limited industrial market. By this time both Philips and Sony already had compact discs on the market, and the VHD format never caught on.
In 1981, JVC introduced a line of revolutionary direct drive cassette decks, topped by the DD-9, that provided previously unattainable levels of speed stability.
During the 1980s JVC had a brief appearance in marketing their own portable audio equipment similar to the Sony Walkmans at the time. The JVC CQ-F2K was released in 1982 and had a detachable radio that mounted to the headphones for compact, wire-free listening experience. JVC had difficulty making a success of the products, and a few years later abandoned the product line. In Japan, JVC marketed the products under the name Victor.
In 1986, JVC released the HC-95, a personal computer with a 3.58 MHz Zilog Z80A processor, 64KB RAM and ran MSX Basic 2.0. It included two 3.5" floppy disk drives and conformed to the graphics specification of the MSX-2 standard. However, like the Pioneer PX-7 it also carried a sophisticated hardware interface that handled video superimposition and various interactive video processing features. The JVC HC-95 was first sold in Japan, and then Europe, but sales were disappointing.
JVC video recorders were marketed by Ferguson in the UK, with just cosmetic changes. However Ferguson needed to find another supplier for its camcorders when JVC produced only the VHS-C format, rather than video8. Furthermore, Ferguson was taken over by Thomson SA and so ended the relationship. At the time, JVC had a reputation for reliable, high quality equipment. JVC has gone on to invent hard drive camcorders.
In October 2001, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented JVC an Emmy Award for "outstanding achievement in technological advancement" for “Pioneering Development of Consumer Camcorders.” Annual sponsorships of the world-renowned JVC Tokyo Video Festival and the JVC Jazz Festival have helped attract the attention of more customers.
JVC has been a worldwide football supporter since 1982, having a former kit sponsorship with Arsenal and continued its role as an official partner of 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea / Japan. JVC made headlines as the first-ever corporate partner of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. JVC has recently forged elite corporate partnerships with ESPN Zone and with Foxploration. In 2005, JVC joined HANA, the High-Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance to help establish standards in consumer electronics interoperability.
JVC developed the first DVD+RW DL in 2005.
In December 2006, Matsushita entered talks with Kenwood and Cerberus Capital Management to sell its stake in JVC.
In 2007, Victor Company of Japan Ltd confirmed a strategic capital alliance with Kenwood and SPARKX Investment, resulting in Matsushita shareholding being reduced to approx 37%.
In 2008, Matsushita (Panasonic) agreed to spin-off the company and merge with Kenwood Electronics, creating JVC Kenwood Holdings, formed on October 1, 2008.