Akai Reel to Reel Tape Recorders

Company Description

Akai produced reel to reel tape recorders from 1959 to 1986 which were manufactured in Japan. These tape recorders targeted the consumer and semi-pro market. The early models of Akai tape recorders used tube electronics and later on they transitioned to solid-state tape recorders. The company produced both 2 and 4 track machines available in 100v Japan, 110-120v, 220-240v & Multi voltages.

1929– founded by Masukichi Akai in 1929 as a manufacturer of radio components
1930’s– Business prospered while Masukichi’s eldest son, Saburo, grew up in the factory
1933– Father/Son team move their facilities from backyard premises to a new factory
1939– Ten days after getting married Saburo Akai (Son) receives his military enlistment papers
WW2– Masukichi sells premises and equipment to Sawafuji Electric Co
Post WW2– Saburo employed as an engineer at Sawafuji
1947– Saburo Akai buys the Kamata plant from Sawafuji. Changes the name to Akai Electric Company
1953-54 Akai begins to export goods bypassing wholesalers. Advertises in the American mag -Electronics with headline “Why not buy Akai technology?” generating inquiries from 5 interested companies. Roberts Electronics founded by Robert Metzner responds
1954– First Reel-Reel, the AT-1 model offered as a kit
1956– First manufactured R-R, the Akai 900.  Saburo takes a trip to the U.S. to study the market
1958– Deluxe Stereo Model produced
1960– New Marketing Plan- while continuing mass market, Akai pursues higher end investing heavily in R&D
1962– Licenses Cross Field technology ( better frequency response) from Tandberg and introduces the M-7
1964– Introduces the M-8
1970– Akai America sets up in California
1973– Saburo Akai dies in ski accident

1984 – Akai Professional, a new division of the company is formed to focus on Pro Audio.
The first product, the MG 1212, a 12 channel, 12 track recorder using a MK-20 VHS-like cartridge. With 10 minutes of 12 track recording at 19 cm per second or 20 minutes at 9.5 cm per second with dbx type-1 NR, recording quality rivaled 16 track machines using 1″ tape.
1985– Last Reel -Reel machine produced, the  GX-747

1991 – Akai leaves the audio industry. In the late 1980s, Akai employed 100,000 workers and had annual sales of US$5.2 billion.

November 2000 – The company filed for insolvency owing creditors US$1.1B

General Information

Brand: Akai

Years in Business: 1929 To 2017

Country: Japan

Years making R-R Tape Recorders: 1954 To 1985