Taito Trading Company was established by a Russian Jewish businessman named Michael Kogan. Taito also imports and distributes American coin-op video games in Japan, as well as their own games all around the world. Taito Corporation was acquired by Square Enix in 2005.
The company was founded in 1953 by a Russian businessman named Michael Kogan as Taito Trading Company (株式会社太東貿易 kabushikigaisha taitō bōeki?). Taito started out importing and distributing vending machines. Later, they began leasing jukeboxes and they eventually started to manufacture their own.
Although Taito was already making coin-op mechanical and pinball games during the 1960s, it wasn't until 1973 that Taito introduced their first video arcade game. It was also in 1973 that they changed their name from Taito Trading Company to Taito Corporation. In 1978 Toshihiro Nishikado, a designer at Taito, created Space Invaders which became the company's most popular title ever and one of the most memorable games in arcade history. This game was published in the US by Midway. Space Invaders was inspired by an earlier 1972 electro-mechanical game by Taito called Space Monsters.
Due to the huge success of Space Invaders, Taito opened in 1979 an American division called Taito America Corporation in order to release games in North America. Taito America was based in Wheeling, Illinois and was handling the arcade sector of the company in North America. While the majority of the games Taito America published were games developed by its Japanese parent company, they did also publish games that they licensed from third-party companies, as well as games that were developed in the U.S. for Taito.
Besides Taito America, Taito had another division in North America called Taito Software Inc that was in charge of the non-arcade sector of the company. Based in North Vancouver, British Columbia and established in 1988, Taito Software released Taito games exclusively for home computers and consoles. Prior to Taito Software, the consumer side was also handled by Taito America. Like Taito America, Taito Software's catalog was mainly games developed by the Japanese parent company and occasionally games licensed from other companies.
1995 marked the last year that North America saw the Taito label on new games as Taito America and Taito Software closed down their offices at the same time. Video games developed by Taito are still available in North America to this day but they now bear the name of other publishers.
Taito has had a big influence on the course of videogame history, developing some very innovative games. Space Invaders is probably the most notable, but games such as Qix, Bubble Bobble, Jungle Hunt, Elevator Action, Puzznic, Operation Wolf and Puzzle Bobble also introduced unique and innovative gameplay ideas.
In 1992, Taito announced a CD-ROM-based console system named WOWOW, that would have allowed people to play near-exact ports of Taito's arcades (similar to the Neo Geo), as well as download games from a satellite transmission (as the Satellaview would do later). It was named after the Japanese television station WOWOW and would have utilized its stations to download games. The WOWOW was never released.
On August 22, 2005, it was announced that gaming giant Square Enix would purchase 247,900 Taito shares worth ¥45.16 billion (US$409.1 million), to make Taito Corporation a subsidiary of Square Enix. The purpose of the takeover by Square Enix is to both increase Taito's profit margin exponentially as well as begin their company's expansion into new forms of gaming (most notably, the arcade scene), and various other entertainment venues. The takeover bid from Square Enix was accepted by previous majority stockholder Kyocera, making Taito an official Square Enix subsidiary. On September 22, 2005, Square Enix announced successfully acquiring 93.7% of all shares of Taito, effectively owning the entire company. By September 28, 2005, Taito became a subsidiary wholly owned by Square Enix. The present Taito Corporation was formed on March 31, 2006 by merging Taito into SQEX Corporation (formerly The Game Designers Studio).
Square Enix officially announced on July 28, 2008 that it would liquidate two subsidiaries of Taito, Taito Art Corporation and Taito Tech Co., Ltd. on the grounds that both had fulfilled their business purpose. The process officially ended in October 2008.
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- Jenkins, David (August 22, 2005). "Square Enix Makes Bid For Taito". Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Carless, Simon (September 22, 2005). "Square Enix Nears Takeover Of Taito". Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Klepek, Patrick (September 28, 2005). "Square Enix Swallows Taito". Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Square Enix Co., Ltd. (July 28, 2008). "Notice regarding Dissolution and Liquidation of Subsidiaries" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- http://www.taito.com/ - Company homepage (in English)
- http://www.taito.co.jp/ - Company homepage (in Japanese)
- The Taito Project from Emulation Status
- Taito Corporation at MobyGames
- The History of Taito at Jap-Sai.com
- Arcade Games Manufactured by Taito at Killer List of Videogames