Pioneer | Japan

original_pioneer_logoPioneer is largely a creation of the Matsumoto family. Nozomu Matsumoto was born in Kobe in 1906, the son of a Christian missionary. He inherited his parents’ religious faith, which may have played a role in his early desire to bring “technological innovation based on deep emotions” to the Japanese people. Specifically, when Matsumoto heard a new, Western-built phonograph speaker in 1932, he was so struck by its superior tone that he immediately resolved to make such products available in Japan.

Exclusive M10 Transistor AMP
Exclusive M10 Transistor AMP

In 1936 Matsumoto founded a tiny company called Fukuin Shokai Denki Seisakusho, or Gospel Electric Works. From a workshop in Osaka, Matsumoto and a colleague struggled to devise a “dynamic” speaker like the Philco model Matsumoto had listened to, and after a year of experimentation the A-8 was brought to market in 1937. In recognition of its groundbreaking role Matsumoto christened the speaker Pioneer, and graced it with the corporate logo that was used for decades: the Greek letter omega–symbol of electrical resistance–and a tuning fork.

Pioneer Amplifiers

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The Japanese electric industry as a whole enjoyed similar success, and by the mid-1950s Fukuin was selling a significant number of components to its bigger competitors. This was a profitable business but not likely to build the kind of mass brand-name recognition that would make the company a true audio giant. Achieving such recognition would require the production and effective marketing of complete stereo sets, and in the early 1960s Matsumoto and his sons set out to achieve that goal.

The company first changed its name, from Fukuin (Gospel) Electric to the nondenominational Pioneer. It next brought out, in 1962, the first stereo system with detachable speakers, a variation on the usual one-piece console design. This experiment, known as the PSC-5A, was extremely successful and became the stereo industry’s standard format. Pioneer also committed itself to the production of full stereo component sets, hoping to share in the blossoming overseas trade with a full range of audio products.

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