World and domestic firsts in technology and research development, made possible by managerial innovation and backed by establishment, improvement and reform of its various personnel systems, as well as the early mounting of environmental projects, make it possible to say that NEC's history has been marked by constant innovation for more than a hundred years. NEC is empowered by the DNA of innovation.
On 17 July 1899, Nippon Electric Company, Limited (renamed NEC Corporation, effective April, 1983, both expressed as NEC hereafter) Japan's first joint venture with foreign capital, was established by Kunihiko Iwadare in association with the U.S. firm Western Electric Company (presently Alcatel-Lucent).
The basic aim of the new company, expressed in the slogan “Better Products, Better Service,” was to carry out the promise to provide its customers with world-class products and dependable follow-up service. The notion of follow-up service didn't take root among Japanese businesses until a full half-century later, whereas NEC had from the beginning embraced a concept that developed into what we now call Customer Satisfaction (CS).
Born in 1857 in Fukuoka prefecture, Kunihiko Iwadare graduated from the department of telegraphic communications at Kobu University – a predecessor of the current faculty of engineering at Tokyo University. He entered the Ministry of Engineering, then moved to the United States to work at Edison Machine Works, a predecessor of General Electric. He is known as one of the few Japanese who worked with Thomas Edison.
Upon returning to Japan, he became the first chief engineer at Osaka Dento, a predecessor of Kansai Electric Power Company. And in 1899, when he was 42, he founded Nippon Electric Company, Limited as a joint venture with Western Electric Company, becoming the president of the first foreign-capital enterprise in Japan.
Yasujiro Niwa invented unique NE-style phototelegraphic equipment that became the foundation of today’s FAX machines. In November 1928, when Emperor Hirohito's Imperial Accession Ceremony was held, newspaper companies that had mulled over ways to deliver papers with photos of the ceremony throughout the nation as quickly as possible employed this phototelegraphic equipment with great success.
In contrast to advanced electric technologies that had mainly been adopted from Western nations in those days, the field of telephotography was established with purely home-grown technologies and it contributed greatly to the development of FAX technologies in Japan.
(Source: “10 Greatest Japanese Inventors / Numerous Great Inventions” Japan Patent Office)