Retro TEC

The history of TEC (Tokyo Electric Co. Ltd.) has two strands. This is reflected by not one, but two, online company histories:


The ‘Toshiba’ history provides a clear picture of how both the Tokyo Electric Company and Toshiba came to be:

1875 saw the establishment of Tanaka Seizo-sho (Tanaka Engineering Works), Japan’s first manufacturer of telegraphic equipment. Its founder, Hisashige Tanaka (1799 – 1881), was well known from his youth for inventions that included mechanical dolls and a perpetual clock. Under the name Shibaura Seisaku-sho (Shibaura Engineering Works), his company became one of Japan’s largest manufacturers of heavy electrical apparatus.

In 1890, Hakunetsu-sha & Co., Ltd. was established as Japan’s first plant for electric incandescent lamps. Subsequent diversification saw the company evolve as a manufacturer of consumer products. In 1899, the company was renamed Tokyo Denki (Tokyo Electric Co.).

In 1939, these two companies, leaders in their respective fields, merged to form an integrated electric equipment manufacturer, Tokyo Shibaura Denki (Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd.). The company was soon well known as ‘Toshiba,’ which became its official name in 1978.”


The ‘Toshiba TEC’ history tells us that the Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co., Ltd. was renamed as the Tokyo Electric Co. Ltd in December 1952. It also indicates that ‘Toshiba’ and ‘TEC’ co-existed as two strands of the business until 1999:

April 1994: Toshiba’s facsimile products and laser beam printer business is consolidated with TEC’s business in the same fields.

October 1994: Merged with TEC Electronics Corporation and changed name to TEC Corporation.

January 1999: Trading name changed to Toshiba TEC Corporation

Another relevant entry in the ‘Toshiba TEC’ history:

October 1985: TEC’s first overseas manufacturing subsidiary established in Singapore.

I say “relevant” because it’s likely this TEC electronic typewriter TW-1000 was manufactured by TEC in Singapore.


Hence the first character of its S006730 serial number.


Note also how “Made in Japan” is conspicuously absent from the rear sticker:


Seen on its own, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a large office machine …


… when in fact it’s a compact machine which is lighter (8.5 kg) and smaller than other (10 kg) compacts subsequently manufactured by TEC. It also has a footprint which is smaller than other compacts in my collection, such as the Canon AP150 …


… and the IBM 6715.


The distinction between “compact” electronic typewriters and “professional” electronic typewriters was lost on the Council of the European Communities (EEC) when it rejected TEC’s appeal against a 1985 anti-dumping proceeding lodged by the Committee of European Typewriter Manufacturers (CETMA) …


One of TEC’s objections was that two distinct export markets should have been taken into consideration when profit margins were calculated:


Clearly the Council hadn’t seen TEC’s much larger office machines like the TW-4000 and TW-5000 (pictured) …


… and then compared it with the TW-1000, a compact machine which is, nevertheless, big on character


.. and I don’t just mean its 100-character (versus 96-character) printwheel …


Too big to qualify as a “personal” electronic typewriter, the TW-1000 is personable in a way that most electronic wedges aren’t.

Someone loved this typewriter before I did …


Perhaps that’s why this particular machine has survived intact, and in good condition. Unusually, there are no signs of deterioration of the noise-insulating sponge rubber  …


Less unusual is the fact that the TW-1000 uses the same Olivetti ribbon cassette that’s used on the Juki 2200 and many other Japanese electronic typewriters (larger office machines take and Olivetti ET-221 compatible ribbon) …


This typewriter has survived, even if its future wasn’t as bright as predicted back in 1988 ….


Other TEC TW-survivors:

TEC TW-1100 …


TEC TW-1200 (dark grey)…


TEC TW-1200 (beige) …


TEC TW-1250 …


TEC TW-1400 …


TEC TW-5000 (again) …


Models not shown above are the TW-1300, TW-1450, TW-1500, TW-1540, TW-2000, TW-3000, TW-4000 and TW-6000. That’s according to compatible ribbon/typewriter/printer model listings:

  • (TW1000/TW1100/TW1200/TW1250/TW1300/TW1300F/TW1400/TW1450/TW1500 /TW2000/TW3000/TW4000/TW5000/TW6000)
  • T1000 – UTAX T1200 – UTAX T1250 – UTAX T1300 – UTAX T1400 – UTAX T1450 – UTAX T1500 – UTAX T2000 model numbers are also listed for the same consumables.

UTAX GmbH, a German electronic office equipment supplier/distributor, intervened on TEC’s behalf in its appeal against the EEC’s 1985 anti-dumping proceeding:


UTAX GmbH history:

1961: Establishment of the company named Electronic-Büromaschinen-Vertriebs GmbH, Hamburg
1967: Development of a dealer sales network for office communication
1968: Introduction of the brand name UTAX
1977: Start of OEM concept (first co-operation with Mita)
1983: Start of international sales concept, start of wide-format programme with first A2-machine
1984: Commenced trading with foreign distributors*
1989: Establishment of UTAX UK Ltd.
1991: Introduction of digital technology.
1996: Sales of UTAX products to more than 40 countries throughout Europe, Africa and Middle East
1999: Taken over by TA Triumph-Adler AG

UTAX T-1100 (above)

Towa Sankiden


6 thoughts on “Retro TEC

  1. It’s a small wedge-shaped world! Luckily the TW-1000 keyboard is nicely uncomplicated. No mysterious function keys which is the way I like it. (I also have a backlog of scans to do!) 😉


  2. Heh, I have not yet scanned any of it yet, but I do have the service manual and a whole binder full of technical memos for the TEC TW-1000. I’m not sure how useful it would be, though. It’s mostly swapping prefab circuit boards rather than actually repairing with wedges.


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