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Sharp History

1964-1966 : World's First Electronic Calculator

Pursuing a New Field During the Peak of the TV Boom

People depend on electronic calculators to meet their personal and business needs. In 1964, as Japan was excitedly preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, Sharp once again delivered a breakthrough product -- the world's first all transistor-diode electronic calculator.

A Proposal from Young Engineers

Four years earlier in 1960, sales of TVs and other products skyrocketed to a level 18 times higher than in 1950, an astonishing accomplishment for a ten-year period. Some young engineers who had been working for the company for just four or five years, after assessing the emerging technologies, pushed hard to begin research into computers and semiconductor technology. Management accepted their proposals and a new research laboratory was established.

Computers like an Abacus

For a number of reasons, the company gave up its original objective of developing large computers and instead decided to pursue the development of computers that could be used by anyone, anytime and anywhere, similar to the abacus.

Completion after Learning from the Very Beginning

Like the radio before, developing computers posed an almost overwhelming challenge to the development team. Yet in 1964, Sharp produced the world's first all transistor-diode electronic desktop calculator, the CS-10A. The calculator was priced at 535,000 yen.

A Great New Sensation Touches off an "Electronic Calculator War"

The first all transistor-diode electronic calculator was a high-grade product which no one could mistake for an abacus. Its calculating speed and quiet operation soon made it a sensation. Manufacturers rushed into a field that was soon crowded with 33 makers offering 210 different models. This intense competition let to what was called the "electronic calculator war."

Serving as the Starting Point of Restructuring

Successful development of the all transistor-diode electronic calculator triggered Sharp's entry into the semiconductor, LCD and information communications fields, transforming the company into a comprehensive electronics enterprise. Fierce competition inspired the development of less expensive, more compact and lighter electronic calculators, thereby prompting strong advances in electronics technology.

In 1965, the Japanese economy stumbled following the Olympic boom and entered a period of negative growth. The market for the "three sacred treasures" and other products which had driven the consumer electric and electronics industry had been saturated. Dedicated to further development of sales and electronics products, the company quickly adopted a strategy to overcome the situation.

The "70 Strategy" to Strengthen the Sales Network

Sharp's new "70 Strategy" was designed to reinforce and expand the existing sales network. It worked to establish a sales network by 1970, allowing sales through subsidiary stores to account for 70% of total product sales. Individual operations, including the establishment of new stores (Operation A) and increased transactions with large-scale retailers (Operation B) were carried out, and the goal of the "70 Strategy" was reached in 1971.

The ATOM Unit

In 1965, the company organized ATOM (Attack Team of Market), a mobile unit based on a new concept. Product demand had dropped and the outlook was bleak for retail sales. The new concept called for Sharp and its retail outlets to cultivate new market demand through door-to-door sales and other " customer-first " activities.

The new ATOM unit was made up of 47 employees recruited from within the company. Dedicated to its mission, it carried out door-to-door sales and event activities, with successful results.

Following suit, other industries began to focus their attention on the door-to-door sales first pioneered by the ATOM unit. The ATOM unit also gained a great deal of attention from the mass media as " the group that caused a sales revolution. "

Color Television Demand Grows Full-Scale

An unexpectedly fast economic recovery occurred in 1966, dispelling the gloom in Japan's business circles. While cars, air conditioners and color TVs became known as the " three Cs," Sharp's corporate earnings rebounded, thanks to sustained growth in sales of color TVs and creation of the industry's first microwave oven with a turntable.

The World's First Electronic Calculator Incorporating ICs

Research into downsizing calculators by replacing transistors with ICs (integrated circuits) resulted in creation of the world's first electronic calculator incorporating ICs (CS-31A). The weight, number of parts and price of the new product were almost half those of the first calculator Sharp put on the market.

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