From Nintendo to Nokia: 4 Tech Companies With Surprising Beginnings

What your favorite technology companies started out selling.

— -- intro: Who says you can’t change course?

Some of your favorite technology companies started out with a radically different plan, selling items that would look out of place among their line-up today.

Can you guess which cell phone company started out making paper? Click through to find out.

quicklist: 1 title: Koss Corporation text: The company we all know for their headphones and speakers got its start in another type of media.

In 1953, John Koss founded the J.C. Koss Hospital Television Rental Company.

His business evolved in 1958 when Koss and an engineer dreamed up an idea that would allow them and other music lovers to privately enjoy their tunes. (At the time, headphones were mostly used for war planes and communications.)

An engineer tore some cushion off a phone, took two speakers and fashioned a makeshift set of headphones. Two wires were then plugged into a machine, and with that, the first sterophone was born.

“It was just bouncing on my ears,” Koss said in a video on the company’s website. “It was just great sound. Anybody that listened, it was like the first time they rode in a car or the first time you did anything. It was that much of a difference.”

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quicklist: 2 title: Nintendo text: Who knew Nintendo was in business when Grover Cleveland was president?

Long before Mario and Luigi, Nintendo started out as a card company in 1889.

Nintendo no longer makes the original cards, however the company has carried on its legacy with various other collectible cards, including the ever-popular Pokémon.

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quicklist: 3 title: Nokia text: Many of us likely reach for our mobile devices when we need to get in touch with someone. In 1865 – they reached for paper.

Nokia was there.

In 1865, founder Fredrik Idestam used his engineering expertise to set up a wood pulp mill in southwestern Finland. He opened another mill a few years later along a river that inspired the company’s name.

Over the past 149 years, Nokia has evolved from paper to include rubber products, plastics, chemicals, electronics, telecommunications and what they’re best known for today – mobile phones.


quicklist: 4 title: Raytheon text: Established as the American Appliance Company in 1922, their breakthrough was discovering a gaseous rectifier tube could replace a costly radio battery.

The innovation helped make home radios affordable. After inventing items that helped the war effort, including a radar system for American torpedo patrol boats, the company switched gears to consumer products.

An engineer discovered microwaves could be used for cooking after a candy bar melted in his pocket. After having success with popcorn kernels, the consumer microwave was born.

Raytheon today is best known for its defense homeland security products, including missile defense systems and precision weapons.

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