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Pioneer in PCs bids Goodbye: Toshiba Exits Laptop business

Toshiba handed over the final shares of its PC business division to Sharp.
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Toshiba, the Japanese tech giant, has exited the personal computer business wholly with the final transfer of outstanding shares in its computer business company, Dynabook to Sharp Corporation.

Under the terms of a June 2018 share purchase agreement between Toshiba and Sharp, Toshiba transferred to Sharp 80.1% of the outstanding shares of Toshiba Client Solutions Co., later renamed as Dynabook. On June 30, 2020, under the terms of the share purchase agreement, Sharp exercised a call option for the remaining outstanding shares of Dynabook held by Toshiba, and Toshiba has completed procedures for their transfer.

Toshiba Laptop Sharp Corporation Personal Computer

Toshiba handed over the final shares of its PC business division to Sharp.

Toshiba is a pioneer in personal computers business. From the early 1990s through 2000s it was among the top manufacturers of the personal computers. It was well known for its satellite-range of laptops for heavy use. And from personal experience can say, it delivered in the most difficult terrains too.

The first-ever email sent by an American President was over a Toshiba Satellite personal computer. Bill Clinton used the personal computer of White House Medical Unit Physician Dr Robert G Darling to send an email to astronaut John Glenn aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

But Toshiba was unable to keep up with the competition, which routinely came up with more unique features and value additions, and was left behind in the race.

Companies like Lenovo, Apple, HP and Dell started building better laptops, and Toshiba’s laptop business became weaker. It sold the majority of the division to Sharp for $36 million (£27,590,000) in 2018.

Toshiba’s share of the PC market peaked in 2011 with the sale of nary 17.7 million PCs. But by 2017, the number dwindled to about 1.4 million in 2017, according to Reuters. Its earliest PC laptop was launched in 1985. Called the T1100, it had internal rechargeable batteries, a 3.5-inch floppy drive, and 256K of memory, and it was priced at $2,000.

"Back then, transportable computers were becoming popular but they were very, very, very big," Atsutoshi Nishida, said in an interview. He led the project at the time and is now a corporate executive vice president at Toshiba. "Our plan was for a clamshell-type transportable PC with an LCD and IBM compatibility," he added.

It introduced its 'Satellite' range of laptops to take on IBM's 'ThinkPad' series. Toshiba was outsourcing its laptop production until 2015. But then it transferred the manufacturing process to its facility in China, as most manufacturers were doing.

Models in the Satellite family varied greatly - from entry-level models sold at major retailers to full-fledged media center-class notebooks. The latter were labeled as "Qosmio" and sold alongside the Satellite name.

The early models did not come with an internal CD-ROM drive, but these soon appeared as mobile technology progressed. These machines tended to be smaller in physical size than their contemporaries.

In spring 2000, some models came with a 15-inch screen and a built-in DVD drive, a 6 GB HDD and ran at 500 MHz. They were sold for $2400 by Toshiba. They also had a model called the Satellite Pro.

Recently, the corporation did some upper level reshuffling and appointed CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani as the president as well. This was part of a revamp among top management aimed at speeding up decision making.

The earlier President, Satoshi Tsunakawa, became a non-executive board chairman.

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