At the Vanguard of the Television Age
Research Began in 1931
Thanks to today's broadcasting satellites and high-definition television, people can receive live broadcasts of such events as the Olympics, with color and visual clarity that gives a real feeling of "being there."
The modern television age can be said to have begun with the first mass production of television sets by Sharp in 1953. However, the company's research into television technology dates back to 1931, when radio sets were just beginning to take off in Japan.
Ahead of Competitors Thanks to Mass Production
Ultra-short wave technology gained from research into aerial radio equipment was an invaluable asset in the drive to develop the first television in Japan. The company produced the country's first working prototype in 1951, and in 1952, was the first in Japan to conclude a basic patent agreement with RCA of the United States. Trial production of black and white television sets began immediately, and three models were quickly brought to the Japanese market.
Japan's First Television Set
In January 1953, the Sharp model TV3-14T became Japan's first commercially produced television. It was priced at 175,000 yen. (At the time, salaries for government workers with a high school education started at 5,400 yen per month.)
In February 1953, NHK began daily television transmissions for 4 hours a day. The initial number of viewing households was 866 nationwide. The license fee was 200 yen per month.
A Comprehensive Service System
Mass production of television sets at that time appeared too difficult for many manufacturers, who found them to be very complicated. One reason was the difficulty in providing after-sales service. Tokuji Hayakawa's company held intensive courses and sessions to train its engineers and dealers quickly in the new television technology, resulting in the establishment of a comprehensive service system.
Stores Jammed with People Eager to See "Visual Radio"
Television sets made their way into coffee shops, hotels and companies. TV display areas at stores were jammed with people who had to see what were then called "visual radio sets." Public interest in television grew. In January 1953 the company produced only 15 TV sets, but by the end of the year production capacity was increased to 500 sets per month.
Attempting to Bring a Television to Every Home
14-Inch Screens -- the Key to Popular Appeal
When they were first produced, televisions were too expensive for the average household and were mainly used in places where large numbers of people gathered. The 17-inch model was the mainstay of these sets for public viewing. Determined to bring a TV into every home, the company decided a model with a 14-inch screen would be ideal for the Japanese home and undertook mass production. For years, the 14-inch model was the standard television size.
Attempting to Establish a Price of 10,000 Yen per Inch
Convinced that it was feasible for every family to own a television, the company tried to bring prices down to 10,000 yen per inch. By the end of May 1953, the company's 14-inch TVs had been reduced to 145,000 yen, just above its target.
Sharp Leads the Field
In August 1953, NTV (Nippon Television Network Corporation) became the first commercial television station in the country. More than a thousand new TV licenses were registered in September. The expected increase in demand for 14-inch models soon materialized. Sets produced by Tokuji Hayakawa's company accounted for 60% of the industry total, and the Sharp brand was recognized nationwide as "presenting a new visual life."
Television Brings Changes in Lifestyles
Realizing the dream of mankind to view distant events up close, television spread rapidly into almost every home. It not only brought about social changes, but also changed lifestyles, foreshadowing the arrival of the advanced information age.
A New TV Plant Constructed
In 1954, live relay broadcasts began with a series of sporting events, including sumo tournaments, professional baseball games and wrestling matches. This contributed to a surge in television's popularity. Sharp built the new Tanabe Plant in Osaka and equipped it with the latest conveyor system. Integrating everything from wiring and assembly to packaging and warehousing, it was a marvelous, leading-edge mass-production facility.