Roland Corporation (ローランド株式会社, Rōrando Kabushiki Kaisha) TYO: 7944 is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka on April 18, 1972, with ¥33 million in capital. In 2005, Roland's headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Today it has factories in Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and the USA. As of March 31, 2010, it employed 2,699 employees. It has existed in different forms since 1960, making it relatively old among still-operating manufacturers of musical electronics. Known for hundreds of popular synthesizers, drum machines, and other instruments, Roland gained a name as one of the top names in professional music equipment in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Kakehashi founded Ace Electronic Industries in 1960, a manufacturer of numerous combo organs, guitar amplifiers, and effects pedals. He was also contracted by Hammond to produce rhythm machines for the company's line of home organs. In 1973, Kakehashi cut ties with both companies to found Roland.
As with many Japanese start-ups of the period, the name Roland was selected for export purposes as Kakehashi was interested in a name that was easy to pronounce for his worldwide target markets. Rumour has long circulated that he named his company after the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland. In reality, the name Roland was found in a telephone directory. Kakehashi opted for it as he was satisfied with the simple two-syllable word and its soft consonants. The letter "R" was chosen because it was not used by many other music equipment companies, therefore it would stand out in trade show directories and industry listings. Kakehashi did not learn of "The Song Of Roland" until later.