The History of NEC Technical Journal

A time of upheaval — NEC lays the foundation for the modern era

In July 1941, as the travails of war had begun to affect every aspect of life in Japan, NEC began publishing Nippon Denki Kenkyu Kiho (NEC Research Quarterly), while continuing to publish Nichiden Geppo.

Yasujiro Niwa, the company's managing director at the time, stressed how important it was for NEC to inform the general public of its research results rather than simply presenting papers to academic societies.

In February 1943, a few years after the outbreak of World War II, NEC changed its name to Sumitomo Communication Industries. Its publications were also renamed to correspond to the new company name, with Nichiden Geppo becoming Sumitomo Tsushinki Iho, and Nippon Denki Kenkyu Kiho becoming Sumitomo Tsushin Kenkyu Kiho.

As the war progressed and Japan's situation grew ever more dire, publication of both periodicals became increasingly sporadic, until finally publication was suspended altogether.

It was not until October 1948, three years after the war ended, and with Japan still in the midst of postwar confusion and reconstruction, that publication was resumed. At this time, Sumitomo Tsushinki Iho and Sumitomo Tsushin Kenkyu Kiho were consolidated under the name NEC, and the first issue of what is now called the NEC Technical Journal, was published.

In his introduction to the first issue, Yasujiro Shimazu, NEC's Director/Chief Engineer, discussed the importance of the revival of postwar electrical communications, as well as looking back at the company's history since Nichiden Geppo and declaring his strong conviction that science and technology were crucial to rebuilding society.

Cover of first number of NEC (photo shows MB-850 vacuum tube)
Cover of first number of NEC
(photo shows MB-850 vacuum tube)

A few words about the restart of publication (excerpted from the inaugural issue of NEC)

Three years have passed since the war ended. We have remained silent during that time but now, with our bellies at last somewhat full, we feel it is time to make a contribution and resume publication of NEC, a general technical magazine for electrical communication. Indeed, what we also plan to resume publication of Nichiden Geppo and the restart of Nihon Denki Kenkyu Kiho.

Yasujiro Shimazu
Director/Chief Engineer

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In addition to technical papers, the early issues of NEC featured a variety of other items such as overseas news and a serial by Yasujiro Niwa entitled "Phototelegraphy for Twenty Years." However, as postwar reconstruction progressed and R&D activity intensified, the journal devoted all of its space to papers presenting research results and announcing new products.

In the 1950s, the commencement of private radio broadcasting and TV broadcasting spurred rapid growth in the electrical communications industry. In line with all this increased industry activity, the number of papers submitted to the journal increased dramatically, establishing NEC as a significant technical journal.

Keeping pace with rapid economic growth, technology takes a quantum leap

In the 1960s, technological progress was even more spectacular as the whole country geared up for the 18th Olympic Games hosted by Tokyo in 1964. With the Osaka World's Fair (Expo '70) just ahead in 1970, there was no letup in the rapid pace of progress. To highlight the R&D efforts the company was involved, NEC featured transistors (Number 39, October 1958) and NEC's new computers (Number 64, March 1964).

Cover of Number 63
Cover of Number 63

This period also saw rapid advancement in space-related technology, a field in which progress continues to this day. The cover of the February 1964 issue (Number 63) was adorned with a picture of the 30-meter diameter parabolic antenna that NEC had delivered to the Post and Telecommunications Ministry's Radio Wave Research Laboratory. The photographs on the first pages of issue Number 68 emphasized NEC's crucial contribution to the success of the worldwide TV broadcasting system developed for the Tokyo Olympics. In issue Number 68, the communications facilities developed by NEC were discussed in a feature article about the Tokaido Bullet Train's electronic technology. From satellite antennas to Shinkansens, NEC's technology played a critical role in the important events that symbolized the growth of Japan.

Cover of Number 100 (photo shows Sumitomo Fairy Tale Pavilion)
Cover of Number 100
(photo shows
Sumitomo Fairy Tale Pavilion)

At the Osaka World's Fair (Expo '70) in 1970, a wide range of NEC's latest technologies were introduced to the world. To celebrate this, the publication's 100th issue (November 1970) highlighted the NEC products and systems that played such an important role in this international celebration of "Progress and Harmony for Humanity."

NEC showed off its technological expertise with cutting-edge products such as a TV phone, video system, and wireless telephone. This issue also featured image information processing technology that was used in a unique project called a "computer physiognomist's magnifying glass," which connected image processing technology with personality analysis.

In May 1972, starting with the 103rd issue, the name of the journal was changed to Nippon Denki Giho (Nippon Electric Technical Report). The inaugural issue of the newly renamed publication was dedicated to highlighting NEC's contribution to the development of the Japanese space industry which began with the Osumi satellite. The issue also commemorated the successful launch of the University of Tokyo's Shinsei satellite, Japan's first scientific satellite.

Subsequently, the design of the cover was changed a few times, but Nippon Denki Giho commitment to publicizing NEC's technology continued.

Cover of Number 103 of Nippon Denki Giho
Cover of Number 103 of
Nippon Denki Giho