History of Canon: from the workshop to the photo giant
Canon was established as an optical company and was originally called Seikikōgaku kenkyūsho or Precision Optical Industry Co. Ltd. Despite its grandiose name, Precision Optical was actually a small street workshop in Tokyo, led by Goro Yoshida. Yoshida was fascinated by the precise design of German cameras such as the Leica and Contax, but could not accept their exorbitant prices. He proceeded to disassemble the Leica 35mm camera and, finding that there was nothing inside that indicated such a high price, he therefore decided to create his own copy of Leica. The prototype, Japan’s first home camera with a focal plane, was first demonstrated to the world in Asahi Camera Magazine in 1934. He was called Kwanon after the Buddhist goddess of mercy.
Already in 1935, Precision Optical registered its own trademark Canon, and in 1936, their first serial Hansa Canon camera was released. It was a 35 mm focal-camera with a flat shutter. Although Precision Optical had the ability to make a camera, they had no experience in lens technology. Thus, they turned to Nippon Kogaku Kogyo, the company that eventually became Nikon, for the lenses for their equipment.
By the middle of 1937, Precision Optical decided to start producing its own lenses, and by 1939, they had launched a series of Serenar lenses for their cameras.
During the war years, the growth of Precision Optical accelerated, and lenses for an indirect X-ray machine became one of their main products. By 1946, Precision Optical has expanded its product range, including Key JII and SII. SII was honored by officers of the occupying forces and sold in large quantities. In 1947, the company changed its name to Canon Camera Co. Inc.
History of Canon: the company is gaining popularity
In the 1950s, Canon launched a product that finally gave the company worldwide fame. It was a Serenar 50mm f1.8 lens. According to experts, it was a lens that was ahead of its time. It effectively eliminated glare that was too noticeable in many lenses of the time, which allowed Canon to lead in the field of optical technology.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Canon diversified its product range by switching to electronic calculators, copiers, and audio technologies. However, its main products were still photographic.
Canon continued to shape the history of technological innovation in the 70s, when the company introduced the world’s first camera with a microprocessor AE1. The AE1 was an affordable camera that introduced the world’s first shutter speed and auxiliary motor drive.
In the 1980s, Canon introduced a series of T-Series SLR cameras with a high degree of automation and styles that are used in modern Canon cameras. The T series was very successful, although technological advances indicated the obsolescence of the FD mount. Understanding that in order to continue innovating, they will need to change the lens mount, in 1987 Canon introduced a highly controversial mount for the EF lens. The EF was not compatible with the FD mount, so photographers upgrading their cameras would also have to buy new lenses. EF lens mount has become the basis of the modern Canon EOS system.
But the final entry of Canon into the professional digital market occurred, thanks to the collaboration with Kodak, as well as with the release of EOS-DCS, released in 1995. Unlike Nikon, Canon’s first true digital SLR camera was aimed at photography enthusiasts, not professionals.
In 2001, manufacturers produced the first professional digital SLR camera, 1D. And in the early years of the new millennium, Canon surpassed the Nikon brand in both consumer and professional markets.
There is no doubt that in the future the rivalry between Nikon and Canon will continue. But it is worth noting that in the end, in this photographic technological race only the consumer will win.