A manufacturer of electronic music instruments and other music gear, as well as (historically) consumer electronics and appliances. Akai started in Singapore in 1930, manufacturing radios. After WWII, it expanded its line of audio equipment, making tuners audio amplifiers, and tape recorders. Many Akai products were sold under the names "Roberts" and "Tensai" in North America and Europe.
In 1984, the company established Akai Professional to enter the electronic music business. Its first product was the well-regarded AX80 analog synth, an eight-voice polyphonic synth with two VCOs per voice, and based on the Curtis 3372. Derivative models AX60 and AX73 soon followed. The next year, Akai introduced its first sampler, the S612. This was a very basic model, but more advanced models soon followed, and by the early 1990s Akai's samplers dominated the market. Many musicians still think of Akai mainly as a manufacturer of samples, and the sample disk storage formats used by the S1000 and following models became a de facto industry standard that is still recognized and processed by many workstations and sample-processing soft synths. Through the 1990s, Akai expanded its product line with a series of drum machines and sequencers.
Unfortunately, the parent company's finances collapsed in 1999 when it was discovered that the company, with the aid of its auditing firm, had been maintaining fraudulent books for a number of years. With the company's ownership in dispute, there was a need to raise immediate cash to pay creditors, and Akai Professional was sold to Numark. As a result, Akai Professional no longer has any connection with the parent company. Numark, including Akai (and Alesis) is now owned by a company named InMusic, headquartered in Rhode Island in the U.S.