Panasonic was founded in 1918 by Kōnosuke Matsushita as a vendor of duplex lamp sockets. In 1927, it began producing bicycle lamps, the first product which it marketed under the brand name National.
During World War II the company operated factories in Japan and other parts of Asia which produced electrical components and appliances such as light fixtures, motors, electric irons, wireless equipment and its first vacuum tubes.
After the war, Panasonic regrouped as a Keiretsu and began to supply the post-war boom in Japan with radios and appliances, as well as bicycles. Matsushita's brother-in-law, Toshio Iue, founded Sanyo as a subcontractor for components after World War II. Sanyo grew to become a competitor to Panasonic, but was later acquired by Panasonic in December 2009.
In 1961, Konosuke Matsushita traveled to the United States and met American dealers. The company began producing television sets for the U.S. market under the Panasonic brand name, and expanded the use of the brand to Europe in 1979.
The company debuted a hi-fidelity audio speaker & Headphones in Japan in 1965 with the brand Technics. This line of high quality stereo components became worldwide favorites, the most famous products being its turntables, such as the SL-1200 record player, known for its high performance, precision and durability. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Panasonic continued to produce high-quality specialized electronics for niche markets such as shortwave radios, and developed its successful line of stereo receivers, CD players and other components.