October 03, 2008
Goodbye National, Hello Panasonic
On October 1, 2008, Japanese manufacturing giant Matsushita Electric officially retired both its corporate name and the National brand and brought all of its product lines under the Panasonic label. The Matsushita and National brands had previously been used--mostly in Japan--for industrial parts and equipment in the former case and kitchen appliances in the latter (called shiromono in Japanese, or "white goods").
The National/Panasonic distinction remains pretty fixed in my mind. My little National rice cooker (white enamel finish, natch) is a quarter century old and still works fine. I have a Panasonic VCR and DVD player. At least for the time being, it's weird to see "Panasonic" on a toaster or refrigerator. I expect there to be a radio in it or something. Then again, computerized toilets are big in Japan, so maybe it's not that big a reach.