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Sharp History

1973-1975 : First Practical Application of LCDs

The Key -- Miniaturizing the Display

Sharp had been the first to bring electronic calculators incorporating ICs or LSIs to the market but further miniaturization would only be possible if the display could be made smaller. The fluorescent elements, or LEDs (light emitting diodes), used in displays up to that time consumed a lot of electricity, so calculators had to be equipped with bulky batteries. Sharp set out to find a new display that would use less energy and take up less space. After examining the problem from every angle, it was finally decided to begin research into LCD (liquid crystal display) technology in 1970.

Incorporating All Parts into a Single Display

Though the superior characteristics of LCDs had already been recognized by researchers throughout the world, the technology was generally dismissed as impractical for commercial use due to the difficulty of selecting and combining the necessary materials. But through the unrelenting efforts of Sharp's engineers, the company succeeded in 1973 in introducing a calculator with the world's first practical LCD unit. The electronic calculator that incorporated this breakthrough, the EL-805, was a COS type unit in which the LCD, CMOS-LSI circuitry and wiring were all accommodated on a single glass panel.

Dramatic Reduction in Calculator Power Consumption

The new unit was 1/12th as thick, 1/125th as heavy, used 1/250th as many individual components, cost 1/20th as much and consumed 1/9,000th as much power as Sharp's first calculator model. Able to operate for 100 hours on a single AA-size battery, it was truly a landmark product and sold very well.
Since the launch of the EL-805, advances in LCD technology have continued. Today, the LCD is one of the most widely used electronic devices, finding applications in all sorts of fields from calculators and watches to audio-visual and data processing equipment and beyond. The LCD is now one of Sharp's key products.

The Oil Crisis

The oil crisis of 1973 gripped the whole world. Prices in Japan rocketed and raw materials of all sorts became scarce. Government measures designed to decrease overall demand resulted in a sudden downturn in the business outlook. Sharp pressed ahead with new energy-efficient products to improve its cost competitiveness, and established a new design center to emphasize innovative design as the key to stronger product appeal.

"Sincerity and Creativity" -- Our Corporate Philosophy

This was also the year that Sharp's business creed, "Sincerity and Creativity", made its appearance. The company's corporate philosophy and direction for future business activities were henceforth to be based on these ideas.

The oil crisis caused prices to rise sharply, and in 1974 Japan's GNP dropped 0.5% from the level of the previous year. This was the first instance of negative growth since the end of World War Ⅱ. The market for electrical goods was in a depression more severe than that of 1965.

Resource- and Energy-Efficient ELM Products

Sharp, while striving to make its management system more efficient and strengthen the company as a whole, decided to concentrate on developing a new line of energy-efficient products, such as color TVs and refrigerators, to meet the new demands of society. This line of products, dubbed "ELM," emphasized savings in Energy, Labor and Materials.

The same year, Sharp also introduced the EL-8010, an ultra-thin calculator only 9 mm thick, and the EL-8009, a compact folding calculator. A major technological advance was the successful development of a thin-film EL (electroluminescent) element.

Construction of the Ichigaya Building

1974 also marked the completion of Sharp's new Tokyo branch office building in Ichigaya.

Sales Company in Canada and Manufacturing Base in Malaysia

The establishment of Sharp Electronics of Canada Ltd. (SECL) to market Sharp products brought to five the number of advanced industrialized countries in which Sharp maintained overseas sales subsidiaries. In addition to Canada, these included the US, UK, former West Germany and Australia.

And in Malaysia, Sharp set up its first "re-export" production base for audio equipment, Sharp-Roxy Corporation (M) Sdn. Bhd. (SRC). Sharp was to later establish additional manufacturing and sales bases in that country. This was the first step in a series that eventually resulted in Malaysia being Sharp's largest overseas base.

Sharp's 10 Millionth Electronic Calculator

Though the level of personal consumption remained flat, in 1975 Sharp introduced several distinctive new products. Among these were a radio-cassette player unit featuring a unique automatic song selector function, and an ultra-thin electronic calculator only 7 mm thick. This was also the year Sharp produced its 10 millionth electronic calculator. In addition, a color TV production plant was set up by SCA to coincide with the introduction of color television broadcasting in Australia.

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