The 0 series (which were not originally classified, as there was no need to distinguish classes of trainset until later) entered service with the start of Tōkaidō Shinkansen operations in October 1964. These units were white with a blue stripe along the windows and another at the bottom of the car body, including the front pilot.
Unlike previous Japanese trains, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen and all subsequent Shinkansen lines were standard gauge (1,435 mm (4 ft 81⁄2 in) between the rails). The trains were powered by 25 kV AC electricity at 60 Hz with all axles of all cars powered by 185 kW traction motors, giving a 220 km/h (140 mph) top speed.
The original trains were introduced as 12-car sets, with some sets later lengthened to 16 cars. Later, shorter trains of 6 cars and even 4 cars were assembled for lesser duties. Production of 0 series units continued from 1963 until 1986.