From its inception as a small export business in Taegu, Korea, Samsung has grown to become one of the world’s leading electronics companies, specializing in digital appliances and media, semiconductors, memory, and system integration. Today Samsung’s innovative and top quality products and processes are world recognized. This timeline captures the major milestones in Samsung’s history, showing how the company expanded its product lines and reach, grew its revenue and market share, and has followed its mission of making life better for consumers around the world.
1938-1969 Samsung’s Beginnings
On March 1, 1938, founding chairman Byung-Chull Lee started a business in Taegu, Korea, with 30,000 won.
At the start, his business focused primarily on trade export, selling dried Korean fish, vegetables, and fruit to Manchuria and Beijing. In little more than a decade, Samsung-which means “three stars” in Korean-would have its own flour mills and confectionery machines, its own manufacturing and sales operations, and ultimately evolve to become the modern global corporation that still bears the same name today.
|1970||· Black-and-white TV (model: P-3202) production started by Samsung-Sanyo|
|1969||· Samsung-Sanyo Electronics established (renamed Samsung Electro-Mechanics in March 1975 and merged with Samsung Electronics in March 1977)|
|1966||· Joong-Ang Development established (known today as Samsung Everland)|
|1963||· DongBang Life Insurance acquired (renamed Samsung Life Insurance in July 1989)|
|1958||· Ankuk Fire & Marine Insurance acquired (renamed Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance in October 1993)|
|1954||· Cheil Industries Inc. founded|
|1951||· Samsung Moolsan established (now Samsung Corporation)|
|1938||· Samsung founded in Taegu, Korea|
1970-1979 Diversifying in Industries and Electronics
In the 1970s, Samsung laid the strategic foundations for its future growth by investing in the heavy, chemical, and petrochemical industries.
During this time, the company also took steps to enhance its competitive position in the world’s textile industry, integrating its manufacturing processes from raw materials to end products. As a result, many new companies were created, including Samsung Heavy Industries Company in 1974 and Samsung Shipbuilding and Samsung Precision Company (now Samsung Techwin) in 1977. Another burst of growth for Samsung came from the burgeoning home electronics business. Samsung Electronics, already a major manufacturer in the Korean market, began to export its products for the first time during this period. Samsung’s also acquired a 50 percent stake in Korea Semiconductor, further solidifying Samsung Electronics’ position as a leader in semiconductor manufacturing.
|1979||· Began mass production of microwave ovens|
|1978||· 4 millionth black-and-white TV (most in the world) produced|
|1977||· Samsung Precision Co. established (now Samsung Techwin)
· Started export of color televisions
· Samsung Fine Chemicals established
· Samsung Construction established
|1976||· 1 millionth black-and-white TV produced|
|1974||· Samsung Heavy Industries incorporated
· Samsung Petrochemical established
· Began washing machine and refrigerator production
|1972||· Began production of black-and-white televisions for domestic sale|
1980-1989 Entering the Global Marketplace
Samsung’s core technology businesses diversified and expanded globally during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1978, Samsung Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics became separate entities. Samsung Aerospace Industries (now Samsung Techwin) was launched in February 1987, and Samsung has been developing its aerospace capabilities with unprecedented speed ever since. Samsung also entered the systems development business, establishing Samsung Data Systems in 1985 (now Samsung SDS) as a leader in information technology services, including systems integration, systems management, consulting, and networking services. Samsung’s increasing focus on technology led to the creation of the company’s two research and development (R&D) institutes that helped expand its reach even further into electronics, semiconductors, high polymer chemicals, genetic engineering, optical telecommunications, aerospace, and new fields of technology innovation from nanotechnology to advanced network architectures. In 1987, Samsung’s founding Chairman Byung-Chull Lee passed away after almost 50 years at the helm of the company. His son, Kun-Hee Lee, succeeded him as the new Chairman. During this period, Samsung challenged itself to restructure old businesses and enter new ones with the aim of becoming one of the world’s top five electronics companies.
|1989||· Samsung BP Chemicals founded
· 20 millionth color TV produced
|1988||· Samsung Semiconductor & Telecommunications Co merged with Samsung Electronics. Home appliances, telecommunications, and semiconductors selected as core business lines.|
|1987||· Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology opened for R&D purposes|
|1986||· Developed the world’s smallest, lightest 4mm video tape recorder|
|1984||· Samsung Data Systems established (Renamed Samsung SDS)
· First VCRs exported to the US
|1983||· Began production of personal computers (PCs)|
1990-1993 Competing in a Changing Tech World
The early 1990s presented tremendous challenges for high-tech businesses.
Mergers, coalitions, and buy-outs were common while competition and consolidation flourished. Companies were pressed to rethink their technology and services offerings. Business began to flow across borders between countries and companies. Samsung made the most of these opportunities by refocusing its business strategy to better respond to market demands.
|1993||· Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) developed first-ever digital video disk recorder (DVD-R)
· Samsung Electronics acquired U.S. firm HMS
|1992||· Developed mobile phone system
· Development of 250MB hard disc drive completed
· Development of world’s first 64M DRAM completed
· Acquired Kukje Securities Co., today known as Samsung Securities Co., Ltd.
· 10 millionth industrial robot produced
· Began manufacturing in China
· World’s first 64M DRAM completed
|1991||· Samsung supported installation of Korean Pavilion at the Royal Museum of England
· Development of mobile phone handset completed
1994-1996 Becoming a Global Force
In the mid-1990s, Samsung revolutionized its business through a dedication to making world-class products, providing total customer satisfaction, and being a good corporate citizen – all under the vision of “quality first.”
During this period, 17 different products—from semiconductors to computer monitors, TFT-LCD screens to color picture tubes—climbed into the ranks of the top-five products for global market share in their respective areas, and 12 others achieved top market ranking in their areas. Being No.1 also means fulfilling corporate social obligations, whether the cause is social welfare, environmental conservation, cultural events, or sports. To that end, Samsung actively participated in sports marketing, and as a result of its intensive efforts, its then-chairman, Kun-Hee Lee, was selected as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July 1996, greatly enhancing the company’s image as a key contributor to world athletics.
|1996||· Development of 1G DRAM completed
· Developed world’s fastest CPU (central processing unit), the Alpha chip
· Began mass production of 64M DRAMs
|1995||· Samsung Entertainment Group started
· Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology developed world’s first real-time MPEG-3 technology
· World’s first 33″ double-screen TV introduced
|1994||· Samsung Heavy Industries developed first Korean-built electric car (SEV-III)
· Development of world’s first 256M DRAM completed
· 30 millionth microwave oven produced
· Samsung Aerospace developed the world’s first four-power zoom camera
1997-1999 Advancing the Digital Frontier
Despite the 1997 financial crisis that affected nearly all Korean businesses, Samsung was one of few companies that continued growing, thanks to its leadership in digital and network technologies and its steady concentration on electronics, finances, and related services.
Samsung responded to the crisis by reducing the number of its affiliated companies to 45 (according to the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act), decreasing personnel by almost 50,000, selling 10 business units, and improving the soundness of its financial structure, lowering its 365 percent debt ratio in 1997 to 148 percent by late 1999.
|1999||· Samsung Aerospace (known today as Samsung Techwin), Daewoo Heavy Industries, and Hyundai Space and Aircraft formed a single business entity, Korea Aerospace Industries
· First in the world to mass-produce and offer a full line up of digital TVs
· Developed the world’s first 3D TFT-LCD Monitor
· Developed wireless Internet phone (Smartphone), a small, multi-function phone
|1998||· Achieved top share of world’s TFT-LCD market
· Mass production of world’s first digital TV begun
· Began mass production of the world’s first digital TV
· Development of completely flat-screen TV completed
· Served as Olympic Partner at Nagano Winter Olympics
· World’s first 128M SDRAM introduced
· Deveoped world’s first 128MB Synchronous DRAM and 128MB Flash memory
|1997||· Became a Worldwide Olympic Partner (TOP) in the wireless communications category
· Signed contract to become an Olympic Partner in wireless equipment category for Nagano Winter Olympics
· Developed world’s lightest PCS (105g)
· Developed world’s largest TFT-LCD (30)
· Development of world’s first 30″ TFT-LCD completed
· Announced 2nd phase of New Management
2000 to 2015
In 2000, Samsung opened a computer programming laboratory in Warsaw, Poland. Its work began with set-top-box technology before moving into digital TV and smartphones. As of 2011, the Warsaw base is Samsung’s most important R&D center in Europe, forecast to be recruiting 400 new-hires per year by the end of 2013.
The prominent Samsung sign in Times Square, New York City
In 2010, Samsung announced a ten-year growth strategy centered around five businesses. One of these businesses was to be focused on biopharmaceuticals, to which the company has committed ₩2,100,000,000,000.
In December 2011, Samsung Electronics sold its hard disk drive business to Seagate.
In first quarter of 2012, Samsung Electronics became the world’s largest mobile phone maker by unit sales, overtaking Nokia, which had been the market leader since 1998. On 21 August’s edition of the Austin American-Statesman, Samsung confirmed plans to spend 3 to 4 billion dollars converting half of its Austin chip manufacturing plant to a more profitable chip. The conversion should start in early 2013 with production on line by the end of 2013. On 14 March 2013, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4.
On August 24, 2012, nine American jurors ruled that Samsung had to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages for violating six of its patents on smartphone technology. The award was still less than the $2.5 billion requested by Apple. The decision also ruled that Apple did not violate five Samsung patents cited in the case. Samsung decried the decision saying that the move could harm innovation in the sector. It also followed a South Korean ruling stating that both companies were guilty of infringing on each other’s intellectual property. In first trading after the ruling, Samsung shares on the Kospi index fell 7.7%, the largest fall since 24 October 2008, to 1,177,000 Korean won. Apple then sought to ban the sales of eight Samsung phones (Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 AT&T, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 T-Mobile, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail) in the United States which has been denied by the court.
On September 4, 2012, Samsung announced that it plans to examine all of its Chinese suppliers for possible violations of labor policies. The company said it will carry out audits of 250 Chinese companies that are its exclusive suppliers to see if children under the age of 16 are being used in their factories.
In 2013, a New Zealand news outlet reported a number of Samsung washing machines spontaneously catching on fire. The corporation is expected to spend $14 billion on advertising and marketing in 2013, with publicity appearing in TV and cinema ads, on billboards and at sports and arts events. In November 2013, the corporation was valued at $227 billion.
In May 2014, Samsung announced it will be shutting down its streaming service on 1 July 2014, also meaning the end of the Samsung Music Hub app that typically comes installed on its Android phones.
On September 3, 2014, Samsung announced Gear VR, a virtual reality device in collaboration with Oculus VR and developed for the Galaxy Note 4.
In October 2014, Samsung announced a $14.7 billion investment to build a chip plant in South Korea. Construction will begin next year with production beginning in 2017. The company has not yet decided the type of chips to be produced.
In October 2014, Samsung also announced it would invest 633 billion South Korean won ($560 million USD) in the construction of a new 700,000 square metre production complex in Vietnam.
Samsung plans to launch a new set of services beginning early 2015. The goal of this new suite of business offerings, dubbed Samsung 360 Services, is to become a help desk of sorts for businesses IT departments. The customizable services range from technical support to security solutions for having a Samsung employee embedded in a client’s business as an on-site support manager or technology consultant.
On December 2, 2014, Samsung announced it will sell Fiber Optics to U.S. speciality glass manufacturer Corning Inc.
Samsung Electronics Inc. is expanding in Silicon Valley with a $300 million facility in San Jose, California. The 10-story complex will include 1.1 million square feet of floor space, a clean room for semiconductors and a “fitness center in the sky”. The facility will be split between semiconductor research and development and other sales and marketing functions. It will serve as the North America headquarters for semiconductor operations.
In 2015, Samsung has been granted more U.S. patents than any other company – including IBM, Google, Sony, Microsoft and Apple. The company received 7,679 utility patents through Dec. 11.
In January 2016, Samsung announced it will be working with Microsoft to develop IoT devices based on Windows 10, where the companies will work together to develop products that will run on the platform, as well as integrate with other companies developing hardware and services on Microsoft’s OS.
Samsung released a fitness smartwatch called the Gear Fit 2 and a brand of wireless earbuds called Gear Icon X.
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