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sharp history & facts

"Make products that others want to imitate."

Sharp founder Tokuji Hayakawa coined this phrase to embody the management concept at Sharp. In 1912, he invented the snap belt buckle and three years later brought the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil to the market. Since then, Sharp has been on the cutting edge of technology, consistently innovating new appliances, industrial equipment and office solutions, and changing the lives of people around the world.

In 1962, Sharp expanded outside of Japan and established Sharp Electronics Corporation in the United States—the company's first overseas sales base—and in 1979 it set up the Sharp Manufacturing Company of America to create a manufacturing base in the U.S.

Sharp didn't limit itself to sales and manufacturing in the U.S. In 1995, Sharp opened Sharp Laboratories of America, its U.S.-based research and development laboratory designed to take advantage of American ingenuity and research.

As the array of products offered by Sharp grew, Sharp Electronics Corporation expanded to include a new sales office in Los Angeles, California, in 1996. In this same year, Sharp made its presence known on the Internet, with the creation of www.sharp.co.jp and www.sharp-world.com.

As a manufacturer, Sharp contributes to society by being the first to make unique products that meet the new needs of each decade. Successive generations of Sharp leaders have, in their own way, pursued this concept by making products that contribute to society, in the process creating a corporation known and trusted around the globe.

From the first solar-powered calculator to the largest commercially available LCD monitor, from copiers to solar cells, from air purifiers to steam ovens, and from microelectronics to microwave ovens, Sharp covers all of the needs of the contemporary lifestyle.

Sharp aims to realize its business philosophy throughout all its activities. Possessing a "gene of creativity" since its foundation, Sharp will continue to offer one-of-a-kind products and new lifestyles as a corporation trusted around the world.

important milestones in sharp history

1912 to 1914

  • Company’s Founder, Tokuji Hayakawa, invents a snap belt buckle requiring no fastening holes. 
  • Tokuji Hayakawa invents and patents an adjustable flow faucet.

1915 to 1919

  • Tokuji Hayakawa invents, manufactures and sells the Ever-Sharp Mechanical Pencil, one of the most innovative and popular writing instruments of its time.

1920 to 1924

  • Committed to modernization, Tokuji Hayakawa is among the first to introduce assembly line manufacturing to Japan.

1925 to 1930

  • Company, then known as Hayakawa Metal Works, begins mass production of the first crystal radio made in Japan.

1931 to 1936

  • An originally designed intermittent belt conveyor system is completed in 1936. A first in Japan, this system achieves an unprecedented level of quality and efficiency. The system's mass production capability makes it possible to build a single radio in just 56 seconds.

1937 to 1944

  • World War II drives demand for Sharp radio sets.

1945 to 1952

  • Korean War brings a boom in procurements by the US forces, boosting the Company's fortunes which had declined in the difficult period immediately following World War II.
  • The Company successfully introduces a “Super Radio Set” in response to newly expanded radio broadcasting in Japan.

1953 to 1954

  • The Sharp model TV3-14T became Japan's first commercially produced television.
  • In 1953, television sets produced by Tokuji Hayakawa's company account for 60% of Japan’s industry total.
  • Company builds a new leading-edge mass production facility for televisions.  It is equipped with the latest conveyor system and integrates operations from wiring and assembly to packaging and warehousing.

1955 to 1958

  • Home appliance boom starts in Japan.  Company completes new home appliances plant featuring the largest automatic plating facility in Asia as well as cutting-edge plastic molding equipment.
  • The Company continues to diversify its products by introducing an air cooler using cold water from underground ("The higher the room temperature, the higher the cooling efficiency", it is claimed) and a kitchen roaster using a heater installed inside the top cover to prevent smoking. Both are original products inspired by traditional Japanese sensibilities, and are well-received by consumers throughout the country.  Other unique and ground-breaking products include electric fans with plastic blades, and a refrigerator with an ultra-compact bipolar compressor which increases storage space.

1960 to 1961

  • Company begins mass production of color televisions.
  • The Company begins research on computers, semiconductors, ultra-short wave technology and microwave ovens.  All are future product categories in which the Company excels.
  • Central Research Laboratories established to support new product development.  Full-scale research immediately begins on technologies relating to electronic calculators, solar cells, electronic medical equipment, optical semiconductors, computers and others.

1962

  • In 1962, the Company's establishes its first overseas sales subsidiary -- Sharp Electronics Corporation (SEC) -- in New York City.
  • In 1961, Sharp becomes the first company in Japan to develop a microwave oven and leads the industry with mass production of the new device in 1962.

1963

  • Based upon pioneering solar power research started in 1959, the Company successfully mass-produces its first solar cells in 1963.

1964 to 1966

  • The Company delivers a breakthrough product -- the world's first all transistor-diode electronic calculator.
  • Company invents the first microwave oven with a turntable.  The feature promotes convenient even heating of food.
  • Research into downsizing calculators by replacing transistors with ICs (integrated circuits) results in creation of the world's first electronic calculator incorporating ICs.

1967 to 1968

  • Continuing its international expansion, the Company establishes sales subsidiaries in West Germany and the United Kingdom.

1969 to 1970

  • Cooperative agreement with Rockwell Corporation of the United States leads to production of extra large-scale integrated (ELSI) chips that form the core of Sharp's popular cutting-edge Microcompet calculator.
  • The Company changes its name from Hayakawa Electric Industry Co., Ltd. to Sharp Corporation.  The new name reflects the Company’s broad vision and competencies.       

1971 to 1972

  • Sharp produces the first 4-bit microprocessor in Japan.  It is incorporated in a new point-of-sale terminal produced for Coca-Cola Co., Ltd.
  • Sharp enters what is then called the photocopier business.

1973 to 1975

  • Sharp succeeds in introducing a calculator with the world's first practical LCD unit.
  • Sharp adopts “Sincerity and Creativity” as its corporate creed.
  • Sharp Corporation establishes Sharp Electronics of Canada Ltd.
  • Sharp produces its 10 millionth electronic calculator.

1976 to 1978

  • Sharp develops a TV employing an EL panel that is a mere 3 cm thick.  This thin TV attracts a great deal of attention at electronics shows.
  • The Company introduces the world's first card-sized, sensor-touch electronic calculator.
  • Sharp sells the world's first "Picture-in-Picture" TV sets.
  • Sharp enters the controller market in earnest with a "sequence controller."

1979

  • Sharp establishes Sharp Manufacturing Company of America (SMCA) in Memphis, Tennessee.  This is the company's first overseas manufacturing facility in the industrialized world.  Production of color TVs and microwave ovens gets under way the same year.
  • Sharp begins to produce VCRs in Japan as part of an integrated audio-visual lineup of products.  The Company includes an arsenal of innovative features in its new products, such as a proprietary APSS (automatic program search system) and front-loading configuration.

1980 to 1984

  • Sharp completes conversion to a full-range electronic office equipment manufacturer and distributor by having products in the categories of computers, word processors, copiers and facsimiles.
  • Tokuji Hayakawa, Sharp's founder and the chief architect of its success, passes away at the age of 86 on June 24, 1980.
  • Sharp completes a plant in Shinjo (Katsuragi), Nara Prefecture, devoted entirely to manufacturing solar power-related products such as solar heat collectors, water heaters, heat regeneration chambers, and solar cells for use in outer space, and to conducting research into energy utilization technology.
  • Sharp develops a long-life laser diode.
  • Faced with brisk demand, in-house production of electronic components such as LSIs, LCDs, EL devices and laser diodes grows steadily.
  • Sharp becomes the first company in the world to successfully mass-produce thin film EL panels. These devices are ideal for displays in office equipment and measuring instruments. Because of their thinness, reliability and low power consumption, they are chosen for use in the US Space Shuttle.

1985

  • An industry first, Sharp establishes a Creative Lifestyle Focus Center to discover consumers’ true preferences in order to guide development of demand-generating “new-lifestyle” products. 

1986

  • Sharp launches the Liquid Crystal Display Group and establishes Liquid Crystal Display Laboratories within the Corporate Research and Development Group.

1987

  • The name Sharp becomes inextricably linked with LCD. The Company creates a TFT LCD module containing 92,160 pixels, the most in the industry, and incorporates it into an LCD color TV.
  • After a two-year development, Sharp debuts its electronic organizer (known as the Wizard in the US).  The new organizers give users a calendar, memo pad, phone book, scheduler and calculator, all in a single unit. Also, users can add to the built-in functions by inserting IC cards for specific applications.  

1988 to 1989

  • Sharp pledges to become a full-range electronics company with optoelectronics as its core technology. Optoelectronics, which fuses light and electronics, surpasses conventional optical data transmission technologies.  Its major advantages are data compression, excellent reliability and high transfer rates.
  • Sharp made an early start with optoelectronics research. Spinoffs have included LCDs, solar cells, laser diodes, EL devices, CCDs (charge-coupled devices) and LEDs. Today the company is number one in the world market for optoelectronics, which is the key to growth in fast expanding areas such as audio-visual and data communications.
  • One Sharp success in the optoelectronics field at this time is the development of the world's first 14-inch color TFT LCD.  A mere 2.7 cm thick, it boasts a sharp, bright picture.
  • Sharp takes a lead in the field of LCD-based products by developing a 100-inch large-screen LCD video projector consisting of three 3-inch color TFT LCD panels and unveiling a high-definition television (HDTV) LCD projector.

1990

  • Sharp's stylish UX-1, the world's thinnest facsimile, expands its home product market.
  • Sharp reveals a convection microwave oven incorporating fuzzy logic control.

1991

  • Sharp introduces the world's first wall-mount LCD TV, incorporating the industry's largest 8.6-inch TFT LCD with 437,760 pixels.
  • The Company continues to reinforce its leadership position in the LCD field by completing a new LCD plant in Japan and a facility for mass-producing LCD panels in the US.
  • Ahead of the popularity curve, Sharp polishes its credentials as an ecologically responsible corporate citizen by addressing global environmental problems as a priority, and establishing product quality and reliability, and ecological responsibility as key corporate themes. The definition of product quality is expanded to include all aspects from design to after-sales service.
  • A new quality control system takes into account the environmental implications of product quality.  Efforts are made to reduce industrial waste, and use of chlorofluorocarbons.

1992

  • Sharp completes a new facility for manufacturing the most advanced VLSI chips.
  • Sharp releases a 16:9 widescreen, ultra-high-resolution HDTV with 1,125 scanning lines, more than twice as many as on conventional TVs.
  • Sharp introduces an electronic organizer with pen-based operation.
  • Sharp unveils the LCD ViewCam, ushering in a new era in video cameras.

1993

  • The LCD ViewCam grows into a flagship product that shows the world that "LCD is Sharp" and contributes to boosting the company image.
  • The Zaurus creates whole new markets and joins the ViewCam as one of Sharp's flagship products.  The Zaurus is a PDA that incorporates new features such as facsimile transmission, PC linking, handwriting recognition, and multimedia.

1994

  • Sharp makes waves by introducing a reflective-type TFT color LCD that can be viewed clearly in natural or normal room light. Compared to conventional transmissive-type LCD, which required a backlight, this new display uses just one-thirtieth the power and boasts a wide viewing angle. The reflective TFT LCD becomes popular as a display for mobile devices.
  • Sharp announces development of a 21-inch TFT color LCD, the world's largest. This is 1.5 times larger than the 17-inch model Sharp introduced in 1992, showing the world Sharp's high standard of LCD technology. Sharp finally breaks the 20-inch barrier with this wall-mounted TV.

1995

  • Sharp announces the establishment of Sharp Laboratories of America, Inc. (SLA) in Camas, Washington, to give Sharp a global tripolar research network linking Japan, the US, and the UK. SLA is  founded so that America's superb researchers could use rapidly advancing multimedia technology to create original products for Sharp.
  • Sharp creates a buzz with the announcement of a 28-inch LCD using next-generation LCD technology.
  • Sharp introduces the Mebius notebook PC, a culmination of the company’s expertise in several technologies: LCD, high-density and downsizing technologies fostered in PDAs and word processors, and user-friendly interfaces.

1996

  • Sharp creates Japanese and English websites to provide company information and new product news to the public.
  • Japan's leading economic daily chooses Sharp as the second best domestic company for fiscal 1995, out of a total of 1,054 companies.  Using a multivariate company evaluation system, the newspaper rates Sharp highly for the development of key devices and original products with unique features such as the company's LCDs, its continuous effort of releasing demand-creating products, and increased sales and profitability for four continuous years.
  • A color version of the popular Zaurus PDA is released.  The product wins numerous awards in the US and Japan.

1997

  • Sharp launches the Environmental Protection Group and promotes a 3G1R strategy company-wide. (The three Gs stand for Green products, Green factories, Green mind, and the one R stands for Recycling business.)  Sharp aims to become the No.1 environmentally responsible company from product planning, factory operation, and work processing to employee actions.

1998

  • Using new CG-Silicon (continuous grain silicon) technology developed through a joint venture, Sharp makes a splash with its prototype ultra high-definition 60-inch rear projector that uses three 2.6-inch CG-Silicon LCD panels.
  • Sharp takes advantage of its core competencies and establishes itself as a leading brand in notebook PCs by unveiling a model equipped with an 11.3-inch high-definition LCD, the largest in its class, despite the entire unit being half the thickness and half the weight of conventional notebooks of that time.  The notebook could be run for an amazingly long time (approximately 8.5 hours using the separately sold battery) and had revolutionary specifications for its era, such as a 3.2 GB hard drive.

1999

  • Sharp announces the world’s first 20-inch LCD TVs in February and begins sales the following month. The large 20-inch screen is the ideal size for a main TV in a home.  With a thickness of only 4.95 cm, these TVs save space and use only 43% of the power consumed by conventional models.
  • Sharp releases the world's first Internet-capable microwave oven. This one-of-a-kind microwave oven lets users download recipes from the Internet. These recipes include automatic heating instructions, allowing even novices to cook like a pro.
  • Sharp announces the introduction of a 1-bit amp, which uses the world's first high-order delta-sigma modulation 1-bit amplifier technology to reproduce sounds that are as close as possible to the original. The technology produces ultra high-fidelity sound by digitally extracting and processing audio signals at 64 times the sampling rate of standard audio CDs, while also making possible smaller and more power-efficient equipment.

2000

  • Having provided many world-first and industry-first copiers since entering the market in 1972 with a wet-type electrostatic copier, Sharp's total worldwide copier production reaches 10 million in 2000.  Sharp becomes the second copier manufacturer to achieve this outstanding milestone.
  • Sharp starts production of a high-definition TFT LCD that has the ability to faithfully display objects in fine detail. Sharp's original UHA (ultra high aperture) technology enables ultra high definition that is difficult to achieve with conventional CRT monitors. The new LCD can be used in a wide range of fields, including digital broadcast-compatible LCD TVs and displays for highly intricate medical applications.
  • Sharp successfully developes the world's first Plasmacluster ion air purification technology -- a technology that emits positive and negative ions into the air, thus deactivating impurities.

2001

  • Sharp introduces the AQUOS® LCD color TV, a new standard in consumer TVs.
  • Sharp introduces the world's thinnest and lightest (as of May 2001) 12.1-inch notebook PC. In addition to a thickness of just 16.6 mm and a weight of just 1.31 kg thanks to an enclosure-integrated display unit, the notebook PC’s proprietary retractable keyboard, metallic casing and structure make it portable, easy to use and rugged, giving users a new generation of mobile PC.

2002

  • Sharp strengthens its foundation for future success by starting construction of new manufacturing facilities including the highly efficient Kameyama Plant (in Japan) as a site for the integrated production of LCD TVs—from the LCD panel to the final assembly of large-screen TVs.
  • Sharp announces a new plant to produce System LCDs.  System LCDs make it possible to display higher resolution images and build ICs such as LCD drivers onto a single glass panel. They contribute to more compact devices with thinner profiles and lower power consumption, enabling equipment such as handsets to be thinner than ever.  
  • Sharp enters the US solar market by establishing US business unit to focus on selling solar in the United States.
  • Operations begin at a new plant which manufactures compound semiconductors such as laser diodes.

2003

  • The shift to high-resolution LCDs for mobile devices rapidly progresses, and Sharp begins full-scale production of System LCDs, which enable an ultra-high-resolution display on a par with photogravure printing.  System LCDs quickly find applications in mobile phones and PDAs.
  • Sharp begins solar production in US: Solar module assembly operations begin at Sharp Manufacturing Company of America in Memphis, Tennessee. The facility produces a variety of modules for commercial and residential solar installations.
  • Sharp develops and puts into practical use a technology to enable the repeated recycling and reuse of waste plastic as material for use in new products (air conditioners, TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.), an industry first.
  • Sharp develops the Mobile Advanced Super View LCD and LCD Panel Speakers for portable devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, and digital cameras. The Mobile Advanced Super View LCD represents a breakthrough in high-resolution displays, making it possible to attain crisp, clear images with super-wide viewing angles. The LCD Panel Speakers integrally formed audio circuitry on the glass substrate of a System LCD panel. Both of these technologies received high ratings as technologies to simultaneously enable high-resolution image display and high-quality audio without the need for external speaker components.

2004

  • Sharp’s state-of-the-art Kameyama Plant becomes fully operational.   It integrates production of large-screen LCD TVs – from fabricating the LCD panel to final assembly - and is the first such facility in the world.
  • Sharp introduces Illuminating Solar Panels that integrate high-luminance LEDs (light-emitting diodes) with transparent, high-conversion-efficiency thin-film solar cells. In addition to using the solar cells to generate electricity during the daytime, the solar panels are transparent and allow natural light to pass through. At night these panels can provide illumination using the embedded LEDs.
  • Sharp introduces a Superheated Steam Oven using a technology that achieves low-calorie, low-salt cooking using superheated steam at about 300°C.  The process enjoys three major features—reduced fat, lower salt, and preservation of vitamin C in foods.

2005

  • Sharp achieves the world’s highest solar cell production total for the sixth year in a row, and Sharp receives high ratings as a leading environmental company.
  • Sharp introduces 65V-Inch Digital Full-HD LCD TV, the world’s largest when unveiled.  It proves that super large screens were now the domain of LCDs.
  • 4.5 kW Sharp solar system is installed at Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park. The system generates 120 kW of clean electricity that is fed back into the grid serving PG&E's customers throughout northern and central California.
  • 904 kW Sharp solar system is installed at FedEx’s hub at Oakland International Airport. The system provides about 80 percent of the facility’s peak-demand electricity needs.

2006

  • Sharp initiates a system to ensure a consistent supply of large-format LCD panels in the 40- and 50-inch class by adopting eighth-generation glass substrates (2,160 x 2,460 mm), a world first, and sets up a global five-base production system with the goal of producing products in the region in which they are used.
  • Sharp acquires the Eco Mark, the only Type I environmental labeling in Japan, administered by the Japanese Environment Association, for a photovoltaic module, an industry first.
  • Sharp developed and begins sample shipments of a blue-violet laser diode with 20-mW maximum power that achieves a 10,000-hour service lifetime, among the longest in the industry, with power consumption of only 168 mW, the industry’s lowest. This diode is ideal for playback of next-generation DVDs, such as Blu-ray Discs and HD-DVD.

2007

  • Sharp develops a 108V-inch LCD TV that it shows at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This 108V-inch LCD TV, the world’s largest at that time, uses a Black Advanced Super View full-HD panel, measuring 2,386 x 1,344 mm, that is made at Kameyama Plant No. 2 from the first-ever eighth-generation glass substrates.
  • Sharp continues to develop new LCD technologies such as the Mobile Advanced Super View LCD, an ideal product for One-Seg-compatible mobile phones with its 2,000:1 contrast (industry’s highest for the two-inch class at the time), one of the industry’s widest viewing angles (176°), fast response speed (8 ms); and System LCD technology with embedded optical sensors which offer input through touch-screen and scanning.
  • Sharp solar system is installed on Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. The 1.6 MW system is the largest commercial solar installation at that time. In addition to roof-mounted arrays, the system also features a new structure that encompasses two carports under which employees can park – and if they drive a plug-in hybrid - recharge their car.
  • Sharp wins Stevie Award (American Business Awards) “Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program” for the SOLA in NOLA charity reconstruction project. Sharp donated and arranged for the installation of ten solar systems on homes being rebuilt in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward to demonstrate the role solar power could play in the community’s rebuilding efforts.
  • Sharp breaks ground on a new manufacturing complex to include a LCD panel plant that will be the first facility to use tenth-generation glass substrates (2,850 x 3,050 mm), the world’s largest.  A solar cell plant will have an annual production volume of 1,000 MW (one million kW) for thin-film solar cells.

2008

  • Sharp releases Next-Generation X Series AQUOS® LCD TVs that feature Sharp’s newly developed next-generation Mega Advanced Super View LCD.  The Mega Advanced Super View LCD offers amazingly superb picture quality, an innovative thin-profile design, and outstanding environmental performance. This new LCD boasts “mega-contrast”—a TV contrast of more than 1,000,000:1 —producing deep, rich blacks, expanding the reproducible color gamut to 150% of the NTSC color space, and enabling a display that is only 2.28 cm thick at its thinnest part. For optimal sound quality, X Series models incorporate Sharp’s original 1-Bit digital amp.
  • Sharp and Italy’s largest power company, Enel SpA (Enel), agree to establish a joint venture to operate as an independent power producer (IPP). As such, they plan to develop a number of solar power plants with a total capacity of 189 MW by the end of 2012.
  • Sharp produces one millionth solar module at Memphis factory and grows production capacity at SMCA to 100 MW.
  • 2 MW Sharp solar system is installed at Denver International Airport. Spanning seven and a half acres, the system will generate over three million kWh of clean electricity annually.

2011

  • The 9/11 Memorial and Museum and Sharp Electronics Corporation announced a technology partnership.  Sharp, in addition to providing future audio/video techonology support, has donated a new video installation at the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site. The 13' x 7' video wall, comprised of nine Sharp LCD monitors, features animated renderings of the Memorial and an official "opening day counter."  Stop by the Preview Site to see for yourself!

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