[From July Issue 2015]
Known for its home use printers, Seiko Epson Corp. (Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture) was founded in 1985. In the beginning the company was called Daiwa Kogyo, Ltd. The latter was founded in 1942 as a factory to manufacture components for Seiko wristwatches. This first factory was a renovated miso storehouse and had nine employees.
The Epson name came about when the small digital “EP (Electric Printer)-101” went on sale in 1969. This product had evolved from a device used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics called a “printing timer.” The Seiko group was the official time keeper for those games.
The EP-101 was a breakthrough in that it was only a quarter of the size and weight of other printers on the market. It was used as a printer for calculators and was so successful that at one time had more than 90% of the total market share for calculators. With the success of the EP-101, Seiko Epson began life as a manufacturer of printing devices.
The Epson brand was established with a wish to “bring the offspring (sons) of this product (the EP) into the world.” This year is the brand’s 40th anniversary. In addition to the printers that got the company started, all kinds of offspring have been reared, and now this includes projectors, sensors, semiconductors, quartz resonators, industrial robots, and other devices.
The characteristic hallmark of Seiko Epson is its “energy-saving, compact, and precise technology,” which is the company’s technological knowhow acquired through the development of wristwatches and printing devices. The company’s culture of “creation and risk taking” allows it to courageously pioneer new ideas and this had led to the development of numerous technologies and products that were the world’s firsts.
For example, the world’s first quartz wristwatch “Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ” was sold in 1969. Mechanical wristwatches in those days could lose or gain up to 20 seconds per day. This product was more precise and reduced the difference to just 0.2 seconds. This product had a huge impact on the global watch industry.
In 1994, the first color ink jet printer, the “MJ-700V2C,” was launched on the market. It stood out for its less than 100,000 yen price tag and photographic image quality. Today, the applications for ink jet printers have spread to commercial and industrial areas; among other things, for ad posters, product labels, textile printing, and for the manufacture of electronic components.
Text: ITO Koichi