Korg Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that manufactures electronic musical instruments. The company is one of the most widely used and respected names in the electronic music world.
Founded in 1962 in Japan by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai, Korg was originally known as Keio Electronic Laboratories because its fledgling offices were located near the Keio train line in Tokyo and Keio can be formed by combining the first letters of Kato and Osanai. Before founding the company, Kato ran a nightclub. Osanai, a Tokyo University graduate and noted accordionist, regularly performed at Kato's club accompanied by a Wurlitzer Sideman rhythm machine. Unsatisfied with the rhythm machine, Osanai convinced Kato to finance his efforts to build a better one.
The company's first product, released in 1963, was an electro-mechanical rhythm device called the Disc Rotary Electric Auto Rhythm machine Donca matic DA-20. Buoyed by the success of the DA-20, Keio released a solid-state version of the Rhythm machine, the Donca matic DE-20, in 1966.
In 1967, Kato was approached by Fumio Mieda, an engineer who wanted to build keyboards. Impressed with Mieda's enthusiasm, Kato asked him to build a prototype and 18 months later Mieda returned with a programmable organ. Keio sold the organ under the name Korg, made from combining keio with organ.
Keio's organ products were successful throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s but, concerned about the competition from other big organ manufacturers, Kato decided to use the organ technology to build a keyboard for the then-niche synthesizer market. Keio's first synthesizer, the MiniKorg, was thus released in 1973.
Following on the success of the Mini-Korg, Keio released a number of budget-minded synthesizers throughout the 1970s and 1980s under the name Korg.
Korg subsequently branched out into the music recording and electric guitar effects market, with some success.
Yamaha Corporation has always been a major partner of Korg, supplying them with circuirty and mechanical parts. In 1987, shortly before the release of the M1 Music Workstation, Yamaha acquired a controlling interest in Korg's stock. The takeover of the company was amicable, with Kato drawing up the terms, and the two companies continued to independently develop their product lines and compete in the marketplace. After the following 5 very successful years, Kato had enough cash to rebuy most of the Yamaha share back in 1993.