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Sharp History

1920-1924 : Expanding Sales of Ever-Sharp Pencils

Introduction of an Assembly Line

Throughout his life, Sharp's founder Tokuji Hayakawa remained committed to modernization and productivity. He invented a new plating process to create patterns on metallic pencil shafts. He also introduced one of the first assembly lines in Japan.

Sales grew steadily and manufacturing expanded. In 1920, a sub-plant was established at Oshiage, Tokyo. In 1923, eleven years after starting his company with just 50 yen and two employees, his company employed more than 200 people and had sales of 50,000 yen per month.

Disaster Strikes on September 1, 1923

Just a few minutes before noon on September 1, 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck Tokyo and the surrounding area. It was the worst natural disaster in Japanese history. Fires which started from overturned cooking braziers quickly swept through the city's densely packed wooden structures. Thousands of people were injured or killed. Tokuji Hayakawa's wife and two children perished and his factory was reduced to ashes. Many of his employees also suffered. His own physical injuries were comparatively slight, but in a single day, his family and everything he had worked for a decade to achieve had been wiped out.

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