Victor Company of Japan, Limited (日本ビクター株式会社, Nippon Bikutā Kabushiki-gaisha) (TYO: 6792), usually referred to as JVC, is an 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 since 1953, JVC has been owned by Matsushita, who held a majority stake in the company until August 2007.
1970s - 1980s
JVC developed the VHS format, and introduced the first VHS recorders to the consumer market in 1976 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, due to its use of a guard band in the recording process, 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 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 1976 JVC introduced the 3060, a 3" portable television with an included cassette player.
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 3.58MHz 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 the much more popular 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.