Yamaha began more than a century ago when trained watchmaker and medical equipment repairman Torakusu Yamaha turned his attention to a reed organ while visiting a school. While repairing the organ, Torakusu taught himself the inner workings of the instrument and later began making his own organs under the Nippon Gakki Co. (Japanese Musical Instrument Co.) brand name.
By the time of Torakusu’s death in 1916, the Nippon Gakki Co. was world-renowned for its instruments, including organs, pianos and harmonicas. The company was renamed the Yamaha Corporation in 1987 on the anniversary of the company’s founding by Torakusu. During its storied history, Nippon Gakki/Yamaha has produced a number of different items, so it isn’t strange if five people think of five different things when they name the first Yamaha product that comes to mind.
But here are the six main categories of products Yamaha has produced throughout the years:
- Motorcycles: Yamaha Motor Company was established as a subsidiary to Nippon Gakki in 1955 when they produced Yamaha’s first motorized vehicle — a YM-1 Motorcycle, a 125cc, 2-stroke street bike available in Japan. Since then, Yamaha has gone on to produce a wide variety of motorcycles from speedy sport bikes to their classic, big bodied Star cruisers.
- Outdoor Vehicles: Since being established, the Yamaha Motor Company has produced more than just motorcycles. Yamaha is one of the world’s leaders in producing outdoor vehicles. Through the years, snowmobiles, boats, ATVs, motocross/dirt bikes, golf carts and Waverunners have all bore the Yamaha name.
- Engines: To run the variety of outdoor vehicles it has produced during the past half century, Yamaha could have easily outsourced the engine production to another company. Instead, Yamaha has become known for its engines, even in items it doesn’t produce (go-carts) and items the company only has limited models (boats).
- Music: Torakusu Yamaha’s legacy started with musical instruments and it continues still today. Yamaha has produced everything from organs and cellos to harmonicas to drums and guitars. Musical instruments are the backbone of Yamaha and that is evident when you look at all the instruments they currently offer.
- Music Production: Besides just making instruments, Yamaha makes a number of products that help make any musician sound even better. Whether it’s synthesizers, mixers or digital recorders, Yamaha produces it. They also have a number of audio/video items that help make any home system or home studio even better.
- Sporting Equipment: In 1992, Norwegian Fin Christian Jagge stood atop the podium with a Winter Olympics gold medal in one hand and a pair of PROTO-SL Yamaha skis in the other. Since 1959, Yamaha has been producing fiberglass sporting equipment, including tennis rackets, golf clubs, skis and archery equipment.