Samsung: A History of Humble Beginnings and Smart Economics


When Byung-Chull Lee set up Samsung in 1938, he would have far from imagined that a Korean trade export company set up in Daegu, Korea selling fruits, vegetables, flour and fish to Manchuria and Beijing would seven decades later become one of the most powerful tech giants in the world.

As the humble business prospered, 1950s to 1970s saw Samsung venture into life insurance, textiles, electronics, petrochemical, ship building and heavy industries. In 1970s Samsung’s first black & white Television set went on sale. With 1980s its focus shifted to electronics like personal computers, tape recorders, TV and VCR. By 1990s it produced everything from washing machines, refrigerators, microwaves, air conditioners, semi conductors, radios, computer peripherals and mobile phones which eventually became on its most profitable businesses. When founder and chairman Byung-Chull Lee passed away in 1987 and Lee Kun-Hee took over as chairman, the 1990s saw Samsung foraying into the US, Britain, Germany, Thailand, Mexico, Spain and China. The financial crisis of 1997 which saw shrinking of all Korean businesses yet Samsung managed to grow due to its electronics and related industries.

Samsung developed its own mobile phone systems by 1993. It went onto release its first wireless internet phone or the ‘Smartphone’ in 1999. In the late 1990s, it also advanced in the electronics industry by creating the world’s first mass-produced digital TV in 1998. By 2000s it began making HD TV, Blu-Ray players and other home theatre paraphernalia. It also introduced its first flagship android phone, the Galaxy S, in 2010 at the Mobile World Congress. In 2010 Samsung also released the 7 inch device, Galaxy Tab making it the first mainstream Android tablet. Despite legal entanglement with Apple over patent violations and serious allegation of labour right violations, the ‘tri-star’ has overtaken the world of technology by storm to become a world leader in mobile phone manufacture.


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