Sharp Global History
Sharp’s rich history of technological innovation and creative spirit.
It’s all in the name.
Born of a vision to continuously innovate to improve the user experience, Sharp is the brainchild of founder Tokuji Hayakawa, inventor of the world’s first mechanical pencil - the Ever-Sharp. The namesake of the business, this invention, among many, set the precedence for Sharp’s development of industry and world-first products.
Establishing Sharp in 1912, Hayakawa set out on a path to change people’s lives and businesses worldwide with a sincere and creative spirit. This spirit is embedded in the Sharp family culture and the contributions Sharp makes to society through technology and manufacturing, generation after generation.
After completing his metalwork apprenticeship in April 1912, Sharp founder, Tokuji Hayakawa, invents the Tokubijo snap buckle and earns his first design patent. This invention leads him to open his first metalwork shop - the beginning of Sharp.
Hayakawa invents the Hayakawa Mechanical Pencil, soon to become the Ever-Ready Sharp Pencil in his metalwork shop. As it becomes known, the Ever-Sharp pencil inspires the name of the business we know today as Sharp.
After moving to Osaka, the press announces in 1920 that radio broadcast will begin in Japan in 1925, lighting a spark in Hayakawa. By April 1925, his team has a crystal radio; Sharp branded and ready to sell in June, marking Hayakawa’s first step into the electronics business.
Hayakawa begins researching semi-conductor technology and solar cells (elements that convert the sun’s light energy into electricity) looking into where to best use them - mountainous and marine locations where electricity is scarce.
By 1976 their work in Solar Cells is innovating the space industry.
The age of the home appliance, the 1960s, sees a boom in R&D and production of electronics for kitchens, bathrooms and utilities worldwide. The company begins to develop microwave ovens in 1960, releasing the R-10, 1KW model in mass production only two years later.
On January 1st, 1970, Hayakawa Electric Co. Ltd (first formed in May 1935) is reborn as Sharp Corporation. Hayakawa wants a name to reflect their continuous research and innovation in new electronics, such as semiconductors.
Sharp utilises knowledge and technology from the electronic calculator to develop business-use products, modernising the POS market with new cash registers and payment terminals. These include invoicing and other data capture features in use by sales teams such as Coca Cola.
In January, Sharp releases its first-ever copier to market - the SF-201, followed by two more mass-produced models that year and a massive step forward for Sharp. Worldwide production of Sharp document systems has grown steadily since, with production surpassing 15 million units at the end of 2009.
Sharp introduces the world’s first pocket-sized COS electronic calculator using LCD, the EL-805 Liquid Crystal Compet, in June 1973. The LCD makes the calculator lighter at only 20mm thick and holds an impressive 100-hour battery life, with only one AA battery.
Following extensive development in Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology and only six years after producing a prototype, Sharp introduces the industry-first wall-mounted TV - the 9E-H series using an 8.6inch colour TFT LCD, the biggest available at the time.
Sharp develops Plasmacluster ion air purification technology that takes air purification to the next level of innovation. Conducting extensive scientific research, the team discovers that they can generate the ions needed for better quality air purification using plasma discharge to create the Plasmacluster Ion Generator.
Sharp introduces the 65inch LC-65GEI in August 2005, cementing its place as leaders in the flat-panel LCD market. The range comes with huge screen size options, full HD quality, ecological design and a broad product line-up.
Sharp releases the MX-2700FG All-in-one colour printer. As businesses modernise and offices favour colour over monochrome printing, the digital multifunction printer adapts to incorporate improved colour capabilities, high image quality, business solutions and data on environmental performance and information security.
Sharp solar panels cover the walls of the tallest building (122 m) in Manchester (CIS Tower), 7244 solar panels, 80 W, 391 kW of power, the largest power generation facility in a commercial facility in Europe.
Sharp releases the first interactive whiteboard with touchscreen display capable of showing still or moving images, as well as PC screens, in amazingly high resolution. The bundled application software gives easy touch operation, allowing users to write notes directly onscreen with a stylus or finger, zoom in or out, and flip through pages.
Maintaining its status as leaders in the market, Sharp releases the first 70” 8K professional display, the LV-70X500E, in May 2018. This is followed in 2021 with the launch of the world’s largest 8k display, the 120” 8K UV²A LCD in 2021. With monitors reproducing images at a higher resolution than the human eye can capture, Sharp is proud to transform how the viewers can see the world.
Sharp launches the Windows collaboration display which uses AI, IoT, and productivity tools to create a more productive and collaborative environment, accommodating hybrid and dynamic working. Giving businesses tools to communicate and collaborate instantly has been vital to connecting people in the pandemic throughout 2020-2021.
Sharp celebrated its 50th anniversary in the printing industry with the launch of its first-ever copier to market in January 1972.
Sharp commemorated its 110th anniversary on the 15th September 2022.