Akai is a Japanese company named after the company’s founder Masukichi Akai. It gained international reputation throughout the 60´s and 70´s especially for its reel to reel machines. The company’s roots lie in a cotton wool spinnery founded in 1929, soon electronics were being produced, followed by turntable motors and eventually the Hi-Fi components that are still in production today.

The upcoming sales activities in the USA during the 1950´s resulted in the American company Roberts outsourcing its reel to reel electro motor production to Akai. Shortly after they had received the first reference model, Akai started building thier own reel to reel machines. Roberts and Akai were on the US market together until the mid 60´s when Roberts disappeared from the market, and the machines were marketed under the Akai brand.

In the following years Akai was very successful in Europe and the US, making it one of the largest manufacturers of reel-to-reel machines worldwide, many technologies were introduced to the mass-market; all of which were not developed by Akai. The best known innovations are the crossfield-pre-magnetising, the low-wear-glass-ferrite heads (GX heads) and auto-reverse.

In the late 70´s Akai positioned its self as a full Hi-Fi provider, with a large range of amplifiers, receivers, tape-decks, recordplayers and speakers and also started business in the young field of video. After some financial problems in 1984, Akai was repositioned. Like many other company’s of that time Akai stopped producing reel to reel in favour of the tape deck. Also the growing field of video-recorders and the new CD format were the new target for Akai.

Akai also started a subsidiary to produce electronic instruments, the Akai Electronic Musical Instruments Corporation, that later became Akai Professional. The debut instrument was the audio sampler Akai S612 and was seen as the first affordable sampler ever. In the second half of the 80´s Akai´s US sales dropped dramatically, the company reacted and by 1988 had with-drawn from these markets.

Financial problems ended as the Taiwanese Grand Group saved Akai from bankruptcy. All Akai products today are made by Profilo-Telra. Akai still has production plants in Japan, France and Taiwan and employs around 1500 people. Some products like the Remix 16 and the MPC 2000 are manufactured in China.