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Sharp History

1969-1970 : From Senri to Tenri

Traffic Weather Information System and GND

In May 1969, the Tomei Expressway was opened. To inform travelers of weather conditions, the company delivered the world's first traffic weather information system to the highway's builders. In July, Sharp successfully developed the GND (gallium arsenic negative resistance light-emitting diode), an ideal photoelectric device which greatly contributed to progress in optoelectronics. This accomplishment highlighted the company's technological capabilities in the industry.

Decision to Produce LSI Chips In-House

The pace of technological advancement was gaining momentum, and Sharp was eager to establish a unique, proprietary technology of its own.

The company pushed forward with plans to make its electronic calculators smaller, more affordable and energy efficient. Sharp believed the key was metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) LSIs, which had the advantages of low power consumption and high integration capability. To develop proprietary technology that other companies could not duplicate, Sharp decided to pursue in-house chip production.

World's First Electronic Calculator Incorporating LSIs

In 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the moon and man walked on its surface for the first time. North American Rockwell Corporation of the United States was a driving force behind the Apollo program and in March, some months before the actual moon landing, Sharp signed a cooperative agreement with the company and announced plans to construct a plant to mass-produce extra large-scale integration (ELSI) chips. Later that year, Sharp successfully brought to market an electronic calculator incorporating ICs, the QT-8D Microcompet.

ELSI, the Child of Apollo

The new ELSI chips represented the latest in LSI technology, housing 1,875 electronic components, such as transistors, diodes and resistors on a piece of silicon a mere 3 mm square. This represented a level of circuit integration 30 to 40 times higher than conventional ICs and nearly twice as great as Sharp's previous LSI chips. The new ELSI chip was truly the child of the Apollo program, but it was thought that application in consumer products lay years away. Then came Sharp's Microcompet calculator, whose advanced circuitry was contained in only four ELSI chips. Release of the product caused a big sensation.

Establishment of ELSI Plant in Tenri

The following year, Sharp passed up the opportunity to exhibit at Expo '70 in the Senri hills of Osaka; rather than investing in a pavilion that would be disassembled in six months, the company strengthened its corporate structure and began work on the Advanced Development and Planning Center -- including a plant for manufacturing ELSI chips -- in the city of Tenri in Nara Prefecture. This was a signal that Sharp was no longer simply an assembler of off-the-shelf components. This shift of focus "from Senri to Tenri" generated a great deal of attention.

Completion of the Advanced Development and Planning Center

In 1970, in the hills of Tenri, Nara Prefecture, Sharp built a state-of-the-art mass-production plant for ELSI chips, the Central Research Laboratories intended to point the way towards the future of electronics, and a training institute for employees. The company invested a massive sum of 7.5 billion yen (at the time, Sharp was capitalized at 10.5 billion yen) in this endeavor.

Becoming Sharp Corporation

In 1970, the company changed its name from Hayakawa Electric Industry Co., Ltd. to Sharp Corporation. This move unified the company's name and its trademark. It also did away with the word "electric" in line with the firm's increasing emphasis on broad-based developments in various fields of electronics. The name change reflected a major change in Sharp's corporate direction: from a manufacturer of electric home appliances to a manufacturer of electronics.

A New Corporate Structure

On September 15, after 58 years at the head of the company, founding President Tokuji Hayakawa was appointed chairman of Sharp Corporation and Senior Executive Director Akira Saeki became the new president. With this new corporate structure, Sharp was ready to strengthen its role as a world-class company.

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