Matsushita Electric Housewares Manufacturing Works was founded in 1918. The name PanaSonic first emerged as a range of speakers and lamps in 1955. It was not until 2003 that the company formally adopted Panasonic as its global brand.
This multinational consumer tech behemoth makes everything from batteries for electric cars to camcorders, projectors, Blu-ray players and more recently, camera-focused phones.
Just as important for the future of humankind is its promotion of triathlon-competing robots and devices that bridge the communication gap between man and dolphin.
Panasonic's acquisitions include Sanyo in 2009, which had family connections to founder Konosuke Matsushita. Elsewhere in the portfolio is a brand that every club DJ worth their vastly inflated fee is indebted to -- Technics, with its iconic SL-1200 direct-drive turntables.
The company has been flying of late with the top-rated Lumix DMC-GF5 compact digital camera and 42-inch TX-P42GT50B TV leading the charge, garnering five stars from our reviewers. In fact, its products earned no fewer than 10 coveted Editors' Choice awards in the past year, plus the Best TV accolade for its impressive TX-P55VT30B in 2011.
Looking forward, Panasonic has buddied up with Myspace to expand social networking deeper into the world of TV viewing and joined forces with Sony to produce impressive OLED screens.