Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A company starts off with what it thinks is a great idea. Market conditions change, customers prove elusive, or investors get a different idea, and after a few months or years, the company shifts directions.It’s a common scenario with tech startups.
But every tech giant out there once was a startup.
A lot of them have barely changed from their origins — Intel has always made microprocessors, and Oracle started off with relational databases.
But some other tech companies started in a very different place….
This is the original fish logo.
Finnish Cable Works, the basis of the company's electronics business, wasn't founded until 1912. The company teamed up with Finnish television maker Salora to build an early radio telephone in 1979.
Samsung diversified after the Korean War, adding a woolen mill in the 1950s and finally getting into electronics in the late 1960s.
Nintendo's gaming roots go back to 1887, when it made cards for a Japanese game called Hanafuda. It survived in this way until the 1960s, when it began trying a bunch of experiments like forming a taxi company, establishing 'love hotels,' and selling vacuum cleaners. It finally got into the video game business in the mid 1970s.
In 1915, Japanese inventor Tokuji Hayakawa created the mechanical pencil that gave the company its name. Sharp entered the tech industry when it built the first transistor calculator in 1964.
Kazaa was a popular file-sharing program released as Napster was being sued out of existence by the record industry. Kazaa was created by a trio of Estonian programmers -- Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn -- and turned into a company by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis in 2001. They were smart enough to sell Kazaa to Sharman Networks before the lawsuits hit.
Then they turned their attention to building a similar peer-to-peer system for placing voice calls over the Internet, founding Skype in 2003.
Founder Konosuke Matsushita designed a light socket for his employer, the Osaka Electric Light Company, in 1917. His supervisor told him it was useless, so he struck out on his own. Matsushita then got a big order for electric fan insulators. He used that money to create his first big hits -- the two-way light socket and attachment plug shown here.
Motorola started in 1928 as Galvin Manufacturing and made a battery eliminator for radios -- a device that let home radios run on electrical power rather than batteries. In 1930, it bought the patents for car radios and the trademark for its eventual company name -- 'Motorola' came from combining 'motor' with 'Victrola,' an early kind of record player.
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started the tech revolution in their Menlo Park garage, but they didn't build computers -- they built various types of equipment for testing other tech gear. The company's first sale was 8 oscillators to Walt Disney in 1939. Disney used them to prepare movie theatres for a new kind of sound system used in Fantasia.
OK, Apple still makes (very nice) personal computers. But the company officially eliminated 'Computer' from its name in 2007 to reflect its growing focus on portable devices. Last quarter, the iPhone and iPad made up more than two-thirds of the company's revenue, and the iPad surpassed the Mac for the first time.