Yamaha Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation and conglomerate with a very wide range of products and services, predominantly musical instruments, electronics and power sports equipment. It is one of the constituents of Nikkei 225 and is the world's largest piano manufacturing company. The former motorcycle division became independent from the main company in 1955, forming Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd, although Yamaha Corporation is still the largest shareholder.
Nippon Gakki Co. Ltd. (currently Yamaha Corporation) was established in 1887 as a piano and reed organ manufacturer by Torakusu Yamaha in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture and was incorporated on October 12, 1897. The company's origins as a musical instrument manufacturer are still reflected today in the group's logo—a trio of interlocking tuning forks.
After World War II, company president Genichi Kawakami repurposed the remains of the company's war-time production machinery and the company's expertise in metallurgical technologies to the manufacture of motorcycles. The YA-1 (AKA Akatombo, the "Red Dragonfly"), of which 125 were built in the first year of production (1954), was named in honour of the founder. It was a 125cc, single cylinder, two-stroke, street bike patterned after the German DKW RT125 (which the British munitions firm, BSA, had also copied in the post-war era and manufactured as the Bantam and Harley-Davidson as the Hummer). In 1955, the success of the YA-1 resulted in the founding of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., splitting the motorcycle division from the company.
Also, in 1954 the Yamaha Music School was founded.
Yamaha has grown to become the world's largest manufacturer of musical instruments (including pianos, "silent" pianos, drums, guitars, brass instruments, woodwinds, violins, violas, celli, and vibraphones), as well as a leading manufacturer of semiconductors, audio/visual, computer related products, sporting goods, home appliances, specialty metals and industrial robots.
In 1988, Yamaha shipped the world's first CD recorder. Yamaha purchased Sequential Circuits in 1988. It bought a majority stake (51%) of competitor Korg in 1987, which was bought out by Korg in 1993.
In the late 1990s, Yamaha released a series of portable battery operated keyboards under the PSS and the PSR range of keyboards. The Yamaha PSS-14 and PSS-15 keyboards were upgrades to the Yamaha PSS-7 and were notable for their short demo songs, short selectable phrases, funny sound effects and distortion and crackly sounds progressing on many volume levels when battery power is low.
In 2002, Yamaha closed down its archery product business that was started in 1959. Six archers in five different Olympic Games won gold medals using their products.
It acquired German audio software manufacturers Steinberg in January 2005, from Pinnacle Systems.
In July, 2007, Yamaha bought out the minority shareholding of the Kemble family in Yamaha-Kemble Music (UK) Ltd, Yamaha's UK import and musical instrument and professional audio equipment sales arm, the company being renamed Yamaha Music U.K. Ltd in autumn 2007. Kemble & Co. Ltd, the UK piano sales & manufacturing arm was unaffected.
On December 20, 2007, Yamaha made an agreement with the Austrian Bank BAWAG P.S.K. Group BAWAG to purchase all the shares of Bösendorfer, intended to take place in early 2008. Yamaha intends to continue manufacturing at the Bösendorfer facilities in Austria. The acquisition of Bösendorfer was announced after the NAMM Show in Los Angeles, on January 28, 2008. As of February 1, 2008, Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH operates as a subsidiary of Yamaha Corp.
Yamaha Corporation is also widely known for their music teaching programme that began in the 1950s.
Yamaha electronics have proven to be successful, popular and respected products. For example, the Yamaha YPG-625 was awarded "Keyboard of the Year" and "Product of the Year" in 2007 from The Music and Sound Retailer magazine. Other noteworthy Yamaha electronics include the SHS-10 Keytar, a consumer-priced keytar which offered MIDI output features normally found on much more expensive keyboards.
Other companies in the Yamaha group include:
- Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH, Vienna, Austria.
- Yamaha Motor Company
- Yamaha Fine Technologies Co., Ltd.
- Yamaha Golf Cart Company
- Yamaha Livingtec Corporation
- Yamaha Metanix Corporation
- Yamaha Music Communications Co., Ltd.
- Yamaha Pro Audio