History of TechnicsTechnics was introduced as a brand name for premium loudspeakers marketed domestically by Matsushita in 1965. The name came to wider prominence with the international sales of direct-drive turntables. The first direct-drive turntable was invented by Shuichi Obata, an engineer at Matsushita (now Panasonic), based in Osaka, Japan. It eliminated belts, and instead employed a motor to directly drive a platter on which a vinyl record rests. It is a significant advancement over older belt-drive turntables, which are unsuitable for turntablism, since they have a slow start-up time, and are prone to wear-and-tear and breakage, as the belt would break from backspinning or scratching. In 1969, Matsushita launched Obata's invention as the SP-10, the first direct-drive turntable on the professional market.
In 1971, Matsushita released the Technics SL-1100 for the consumer market. Due to its strong motor, durability, and fidelity, it was adopted by early hip hop artists. The SL-1100 was used by the influential DJ Kool Herc for the first sound system he set up after emigrating from Jamaica to New York City.
It was followed by the SL-1200, the most influential turntable. It was developed in 1971 by a team led by Shuichi Obata at Matsushita, which then released it onto the market in 1972. It was adopted by New York City hip hop DJs such as Grand Wizard Theodore and Afrika Bambaataa in the 1970s. As they experimented with the SL-1200 decks, they developed scratching techniques when they found that the motor would continue to spin at the correct RPM even if the DJ wiggled the record back and forth on the platter.
As the upgraded SL-1200 MK2, it became a widely used turntable by DJs. A robust machine, the SL-1200 MK2 incorporated a pitch control mechanism (or vari-speed), and maintained a relatively constant speed with low variability, which proved popular with DJs. The SL-1200 series remained the most widely used turntable in DJ culture through to the 2000s. The SL-1200 model, often considered the industry standard turntable, continued to evolve with the M3D series, followed by the MK5 series in 2003.
Despite being originally created to market their high-end equipment, by the early 1980s Technics was offering an entire range of equipment from entry-level to high-end.
In 1972, Technics introduced the first autoreverse system in a cassette deck in its Technics RS-277US and in 1973 it introduced the first three-head recording technique in a cassette deck (Technics RS-279US).
In 1976, Technics introduced two belt-driven turntables for the mass market, the SL-20 and SL-23. The principal difference between the two models was the additional feature of semi-automatic operation in the SL-23, along with an adjustable speed control with built-in strobe light. They offered technical specifications and features rivaling much more expensive turntables, including well-engineered s-shaped tonearms with tracking weight and anti-skate adjustments. At the time they were introduced, the SL-20 and SL-23, which sold for $100.00 and $140.00 respectively, set a new performance standard for inexpensive turntables.