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Sharp History

1988-1989 : Optoelectronics, the Core Technology

Optoelectronics -- The Key Technology for the 21st Century

In 1988, Sharp pledged to become a full-range electronics company with optoelectronics as its core technology. Optoelectronics, which fuses light and electronics, surpasses conventional optical data transmission technologies. Its major advantages are data compression, excellent reliability and high transfer rates.

Sharp made an early start with optoelectronics research. Spinoffs have included LCDs, solar cells, laser diodes, EL devices, CCDs (charge-coupled devices) and LEDs. Today the company is number one in the world market for optoelectronics, which is the key to growth in fast expanding areas such as audio-visual and data communications.

World's First 14-Inch Color LCD

One Sharp success in the optoelectronics field was the development in 1988 of the world's first 14-inch color TFT LCD. A mere 2.7 cm thick, it boasted a sharp, bright picture. This development showed that the long awaited wall-mount LCD TV and truly portable data communications terminals were on the horizon.

Dual-Swing Door Refrigerator

Other new products included the industry's first refrigerator which allowed the same door to open from either side, and an English-Japanese translation system that used OCR (optical character recognition) to read English text and translate it into Japanese.

"Romance of Science" Campaign

The company also launched a sales promotion campaign called "Romance of Science." A ship, the Columbus, equipped with the latest Sharp technology, set out from Kobe on June 2. It called on ports all over Japan, allowing people to experience the latest technologies and boosting Sharp's image as an industry leader.

Apply for the Job You Want to Do

Also during this year, Sharp invited employees to apply for positions of their choice within the company. Of the 188 persons who applied for positions in 9 categories, 46 were accepted. This new "in-house job placement system" benefited the company by channeling motivated, talented individuals to where they were most needed.

100-Inch LCD Video Projector

A survey of television viewing revealed that more and more consumers were spending time watching programs on videotapes and laser discs rather than regular TV broadcasting. These consumers also expressed the desire for a larger viewing screen for their entertainment. In 1989, in response to this trend, Sharp developed a 100-inch large-screen LCD video projector consisting of three 3-inch color TFT LCD panels. Compared with CRT-based units, the LCD model was lighter, more compact and required no special adjustments, making it ideal for home use. Sharp also unveiled a high-definition television (HDTV) LCD projector as it took the lead in the field of LCD-based products.

Popular Cordless Phone with Answering Machine Functions

Following its entry into the telephone equipment market in 1985, Sharp conducted exhaustive studies of consumer attitudes. The string of innovative products that were introduced in response quickly helped to capture market share. For example, the CJ-A300 cordless phone with answering machine functions, which Sharp introduced in 1989, was packed with exciting features such as a remote intercom with a built-in microprocessor. The high-quality, function-enriched unit became an instant hit.

Introduction of New Personnel Evaluation System

Based on the Creative Management program, Sharp introduced a new personnel evaluation system in which employees set project goals, worked to achieve those goals, and then evaluated the results jointly with their superiors. These evaluations not only served as criteria for determining raises and promotions, they also helped to develop individual capabilities and increase motivation. Along with the in-house job placement system initiated the year before, this program helped bring fresh ideas into the organization and was acknowledged even by outside observers as an excellent means of encouraging creativity in the workplace.

Integrated, Company-Wide Global Information System

In 1989, work began on an integrated, company-wide global information system that would connect the company's worldwide bases by computer as well as phone and facsimile. This would make it possible to respond quickly and flexibly to changes in the international business scene by allowing real-time collection and application of information. This information network was the largest of its type maintained by a Japanese manufacturer at the time.

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