Creating Printers with Technology Used to Manufacture Wristwatches


社名にもなっているエプソン(EPSON)というブランドは、1969年に発売した小型軽量デジタルプリンター「EP(Electric Printer)-101」にちなんで名付けられました。この製品は1964年の東京オリンピックで使われた「プリンティングタイマー」という装置が発展したものです。この大会で、セイコーグループは公式に記録をとる仕事を任されていました。
例えば1969年には、世界初のクオーツ腕時計「セイコー クオーツアストロン35SQ」を商品化。当時の機械式腕時計は進んだり遅れたりする誤差が一日20秒ほどありました。この製品はその差をわずか0.2秒の精度まで高めたのです。この製品で時計の世界が大きく変わりました。
文:伊藤公一[:en][From July Issue 2015]

Known for its home-use printers, Seiko Epson Corp. (Suwa City, Nagano Prefecture) was founded in 1985. In the beginning, the company was called Daiwa Kogyo, Ltd. The latter was founded in 1942 as a factory to manufacture components for Seiko wristwatches. This first factory was a renovated miso storehouse and had nine employees.

The Epson name came about when the small digital “EP (Electric Printer)-101” went on sale in 1969. This product evolved from a device used in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics called a “printing timer.” The Seiko group was the official timekeeper for those games.
The EP-101 was a breakthrough in that it was only a quarter of the size and weight of other printers on the market. It was used as a printer for calculators and was so successful that at one time had more than 90% of the total market share for calculators. With the success of the EP-101, Seiko Epson began life as a manufacturer of printing devices.

The Epson brand was established with a wish to “bring the offspring (sons) of this product (the EP) into the world.” This year is the brand’s 40th anniversary. In addition to the printers that got the company started, all kinds of offspring have been reared, and now this includes projectors, sensors, semiconductors, quartz resonators, industrial robots, and other devices.
The characteristic hallmark of Seiko Epson is its “energy-saving, compact, and precise technology,” which is the company’s technological know-how acquired through the development of wristwatches and printing devices. The company’s culture of “creation and risk-taking” allows it to courageously pioneer new ideas and this has led to the development of numerous technologies and products that were the world’s firsts.
For example, the world’s first quartz wristwatch, “Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ,” was sold in 1969. Mechanical wristwatches in those days could lose or gain up to 20 seconds per day. This product was more precise and reduced the difference to just 0.2 seconds. This product had a huge impact on the global watch industry.
In 1994, the first color inkjet printer, the “MJ-700V2C,” was launched on the market. It stood out for its less than 100,000 yen price tag and photographic image quality. Today, the applications for inkjet printers have spread to commercial and industrial areas, among other things, for ad posters, product labels, textile printing, and the manufacture of electronic components.
Seiko Epson Corp.
Text: ITO Koichi[:]

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