Matsushita Denki (the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company) is the name behind the Panasonic brand.

Once the world’s largest consumer electronics company and still one of the world’s largest, Matsushita changed its name to Panasonic Corporation in 2008.

Company founder Konosuke Matsushita

“Matsushita’s story is different and unique. In 1952, Matsushita arranged to acquire the technical capabilities of the Dutch company Philips in return for 35 percent of the Japanese company’s equity. It then concentrated on enhancing its functional capabilities in product development, production, and marketing. These learned capabilities permitted it to enter related electronic commercial, industrial, and even information technology markets. As a result, by 1962 only 28 percent of its sales revenues of $64 billion came from consumer electronics.”

(From: Gaps in the Historical Record: Development of the Electronics Industry, Harvard Business School, Professor Alfred D. Chandler Jr. October 20th, 2003)

When it came to the Japanese market, Matsushita dwarfed its rivals thanks to its chain of National-branded electrical and electronic retail stores, stores which stocked no other brand.

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When it came to export markets Matsushita rivalled Japan’s big five computer companies (Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric) and was up alongside Japan’s big players in the electronic typewriter business, Brother, Nakajima, Sharp and Canon, producing an extensive range of electronic typewriters in all three (personal, compact, and professional) product categories:

Series KX-W Word Processors:

KX-W905/940/1000/1030/1505/D55

Series KX-E office machines described as “full size” and complete with their own D2 typewheels:

KXE-2000, 2020, 3000, 3008, 3100, 3200, 400, 4000, 4020, 4500, 500, 500B, 500E, 501, 501E, 506, 506E, 508, 508E, 601, 603, 7000, 7000M, 700M, 701, 708, 7500

KX-E3100 (Jetwriter III) above

KX-E4000 (above)

KX-E compatible D2 typewheel (above and below)

Interestingly, Series RK-T compact machines had cup wheels instead of daisy wheels (the cup wheel pictured below is one I purchased on American eBay. No typewriter to go with it.)

RK-T33/34/365/40/40D

RK-T40 sighting (USA)

Most extensive of all – perhaps reflecting Matsushita’s home electronics rather than office equipment focus – is the Panasonic KX-R series of personal electronic typewriters:

KX-R190 /191/194/195/196/200/210/

300/320/330/335/340/350/355/430/

435/440/530/535/540/550/560/800

Minor styling variations apart, KX-R series typewriters have the same uniform look and feel, with a dark grey housing and a black keyboard, made from the same high-quality plastics. Possibly PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) key-caps and POM (Polyoxymethylene) outer shells. I wish I knew. Any plastics experts out there?

KX-R compatible D1 typewheel (above and below)

A KX-R530 and a KX-R250, two portable wedges I recently picked up for $20 each:

KX-R250 (above), KX-R530 (below)

Drawbacks to both these machines :

  • The typing line is barely visible.
  • The warning beeper that’s meant to alert you as you enter the “hot zone” (the right margin being just 8 characters away) is very quiet and therefore easy to miss.

To my mind the KX-R250 has the following advantages:

  • The keyboard is more spacious and more tactile.
  • The KX-250 is an old-fashioned two-platen-knob machine. It also has slider switches you can use to set the typing mode, pitch and line spacing manually. On the KX-530 you have to enter a Code + Key-press combination which makes it too-close-for-comfort to a computer.
  • The KX-R250 has a bigger and more readable LCD screen (author immediately contradicts himself re his last computer-related comment). While I normally prefer to type in T/W mode, you can easily switch to L/L (line by line) mode and not only check what you’ve written, but also check the approach of the dreaded hot zone via a character count at the far right of the screen.
  • The KX-250 has a removable power cord, which I always prefer. Cable and plug are easily stowed inside the machine.

So the KX-250 is the one to keep, at least until I find an RK-T series machine for my redundant cup wheel (maybe). 😉

More comparison pics:

Double-knob KX-250 (above) Single-knob KX-R530 (below)

Tactile KX-R250 (above) Less tactile KX-R530 (below)

KX-R250 (detachable cord, above), RX-530 (stowaway cord, below)