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Sharp History

1925-1930 : First Japan-Made Radio

A Comeback with Radio

Making a Fresh Start in Osaka

Sharp's founder was unable to rebuild the Ever-Sharp Pencil plant after the Great Kanto Earthquake, but with the help of three employees, he rebuilt his life and his business. To do this, he relocated to Osaka.

In September 1924, he resumed manufacturing metallic writing instruments and established Hayakawa Metal Works in Nishitanabe, Osaka, where Sharp's Head Office now stands.

Foreseeing the Age of Radio

While visiting the Ishihara Clock Store in Osaka's liveliest shopping district, Tokuji Hayakawa purchased a crystal radio set. Just imported from the United States, it represented the latest in the new field of wireless transmission.

Although radio sets were already in use overseas and radio broadcasts were due to begin in Japan in 1925, no radio sets were being manufactured in the country. Sensing that the age of radio was about to dawn, Tokuji Hayakawa saw his own fortunes as inextricably linked to the future of radio.

Coming to Grips with Radio Set Assembly

With little or no knowledge about the principles of radio or even electricity, Tokuji Hayakawa and his associates began trying to assemble radio sets. Since no radio stations were then in operation, test transmissions had to be staged using a manual Morse key. Every time a transmission was successfully received, shouts of joy filled the air.

The First Successful Radio Transmission

Through efforts such as these, Japan's first working crystal radio set was assembled in April 1925. On June 1, the JOBK radio station [now NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) Osaka] made Japan's first successful radio transmission from a test station at the illustrious Mitsukoshi Department Store. When a clear voice was picked up for the first time, the members of the development team embraced each other in celebration.

Mass Production of Japan's First Radio

Mass production of the first crystal radio made in Japan began immediately. Production could not keep up with demand.

Leading a Radio Boom

As Easy as Selling Fun Itself

In 1920 in the Unites States, when radio broadcasting began, the presidential election results of that year quickly reached people by radio instead of newspaper for the first time in history. In Japan, the effect of radio transmission of news was overwhelming. Crystal radio sets sold like hot cakes as soon as they were put on the market.

The first crystal radio set cost 3.50 yen and there was also a monthly license fee of 1 yen. In 1925, 5,455 listening households were registered. Three year later, holders of NHK radio licenses exceeded 500,000. Tokuji Hayakawa's intuition had been correct: the radio revolution had arrived.

Named "Sharp"

The company's radio sets were at first dubbed simply the "crystal radio set," but were soon renamed the "Sharp radio set." Since demand exceeded supply, four types of radio sets were developed, including a high-end model priced at 7.50 yen. Production surpassed 10,000 units a month. The name Sharp was immediately known nationwide as the pioneer of the broadcasting age.

Export of Radio Parts Begins

His fortunes reviving with the radio boom, Tokuji Hayakawa established the company's Utsubo office in Osaka as the first sales base in July 1925.

In 1926, the company's radio set was named the "Sharp Dyne." Another sales office was opened in Tokyo, and exports of radio parts began to China, Southeast Asia, India, South America and other areas. To promote sales in China, Tokuji Hayakawa organized radio trade fairs throughout the country and one in Shanghai.

The AC Vacuum-Tube Radio

In 1928, new AC vacuum-tube radio sets went on sale replacing the crystal radio set. Each year as new products were developed, the company expanded its plants and improved production facilities, making "Sharp" a household name. In Japan, people thought, "Sharp is radio."

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