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Sharp History

1980-1984 : Becomes Comprehensive OA Manufacturer

Calculators -- The Source of New Growth

In developing calculators to be used anywhere, anytime and by anyone, a new technology was needed to make them smaller, more affordable and energy efficient. The decision to pursue LSI and LCD technologies was part of this process. Both were crucial to later expansion into fields such as OA (office automation) and data processing equipment. The calculator was the true catalyst of Sharp's transformation into a full-range electronics manufacturer.

New Facsimile Adds to Sharp's OA Equipment Line

In 1980, the four key office equipment categories were computers, word processors, copiers and facsimiles. Sharp developed its first microcomputer in 1971, followed by other business products such as copiers and cash registers. In 1979, Sharp put a personal computer and a word processor on the market, and the following year its first facsimile appeared, completing the company's conversion to a full-range electronic office equipment manufacturer.

"New Business" Strategy

Also in 1980, Sharp unveiled a "new business" strategy to complement its "new lifestyle" strategy for electric home appliances. At that time, the need for office efficiency through the use of electronic office equipment was increasing. The company began to develop new OA equipment to make office work even more efficient and offices more comfortable, thus contributing to a new business style for the 80s.

Passing of Chairman Tokuji Hayakawa, Sharp's Founder

Tokuji Hayakawa, Sharp's founder and the chief architect of its success, passed away at the age of 86 on June 24, 1980. A funeral was held on July 12 at a major Buddhist temple in Osaka.

New Companies for Marketing Electric Home Appliances and OA Equipment

In 1981, the 12 separate companies that had been marketing Sharp electric home appliances were merged to form Sharp Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd. in an attempt to gain a broader perspective on changing consumer needs and to react more quickly to market trends.

The two companies that had been marketing Sharp electronic office equipment were also merged to form Sharp Business, Co., Ltd. This measure was taken to bring electronic office equipment to a broader market.

Bringing the Shinjo (Katsuragi) Plant on Line

In this same year, Sharp completed a plant in Shinjo (Katsuragi), Nara Prefecture, devoted entirely to manufacture of solar power-related products such as solar heat collectors, water heaters, heat regeneration chambers, and solar cells for outer space utilization, and to conduct research into energy utilization technology.

Automatic Playing of Both Sides of a Record

Outstanding Sharp products of 1981 included the world's first stereo system that could play both sides of a record automatically and an electronic translator using voice-synthesis technology. Other breakthroughs included a long-life laser diode.

Sharp Memorial and Technology Halls

Two exhibit halls were completed within the Advanced Development and Planning Center in Tenri, Nara: Memorial Hall, with displays tracing the progress of the company from its inception through to the present, and Technology Hall, which focuses on development trends in electronics technology.

Debut of the CD and the World's First PC-TV Set

In 1982, the compact disc player was introduced with great fanfare. This invention brought a sweeping change in audio as the digital age quickly made records a thing of the past.

oteworthy Sharp products included the world's first personal computer-television set -- the result of integrating the computer with a TV set -- and the company's first personal word processor. New word processor models soon became more compact, economical and multifunction packed.

Steady Growth in Electronic Components

Faced with brisk demand, in-house production of electronic components such as LSIs, LCDs, EL devices and laser diodes grew steadily. Also in 1982, the credit department of Sharp Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd. was reorganized as an independent consumer credit company, Sharp Finance Corporation.

Advanced Research Base in the Tokyo Area

In 1983, Sharp completed its Tokyo Research Laboratories in the city of Kashiwa in Chiba Prefecture. Sharp's first research facility in the Tokyo area specialized in the latest technologies such as new media, VLSI chips and electronic materials, and also gathered data about technologies from Japan and abroad. Its completion signified that, together with the Central Research Laboratories in Tenri, the company's "east-west dual-lens reflex research system" was now in place.

World's First Mass Production of EL Panels

In 1983, Sharp became the first company in the world to successfully mass-produce thin film EL panels. These devices are ideal for displays in office equipment and measuring instruments. Because of their thinness, reliability and low power consumption, they were chosen for use in the Space Shuttle.

Consolidating Service Companies

This year saw Sharp's 10 service companies consolidated to form Sharp Engineering Corporation. The training institute in Tenri was expanded and fitted with the latest audio-visual teaching materials for such fields as engineering, sales and management. Another training institute was completed in Tochigi in 1985.

Consolidated Accounts Reach One Trillion Yen

In 1984, despite sluggish growth in the American economy and a drift toward trade protectionism, Sharp's exports rose to 61.7%, the highest level ever, bringing the company's consolidated account balance to one trillion yen for the first time.

Odor-Absorbing Kerosene Heater

Sharp was first to the market with an odor-absorbing kerosene heater incorporating an electronically controlled deodorizing device. Sharp was the first to develop FET (field-effect transistor) humidity sensors, which were useful for fully automatic control of various equipment such as home and industrial air conditioners.

3D CAD/CAM Systems

Sharp also unveiled 3D CAD (computer-aided design)/CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) systems suitable for designing everything from products and parts to molds for mass production. This would form the core of a new computerized production system.

10 Millionth Microwave Oven

Also in 1984, the company produced its 10 millionth microwave oven, maintaining its position as world leader.

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