Early years 1912–1945
In 1912, Tokuji Hayakawa founded a metal workshop in Tokyo. The first of his many inventions was a snap buckle named 'Tokubijo'. Another of his inventions was the Ever-Ready Sharp mechanical pencil in 1915. The product became one of the first internationally available mechanical pencils , and due to this big success the Sharp Corporation derived its name from it. After the pencil business was destroyed by the 1923 Great Kant? earthquake, the company relocated to Osaka and began designing the first generation of Japanese radio sets. These went on sale in 1925.
The company was established as "Hayakawa Metal Works" in 1924, in Tanabe-cho, Osaka. In 1942, the name was changed to "Hayakawa Electric Industry Company".
In 1953, Hayakawa Electric started producing the first Japan-made TV sets .
In 1964, the company developed the world's first transistor calculator , which was priced at JP¥535,000 . It took Sharp several years to develop the product as they had no experience in making computing devices at the time. Two years later, in 1966, Sharp introduced its first IC calculator using 145 Mitsubishi Electric-made bipolar ICs, priced at JP¥350,000 . Its first LSI calculator was introduced in 1969. This was the first pocketable calculator priced at less than JP¥100,000 , and turned out to be a popular item. Also in the same era the company introduced the first microwave oven with a turntable between 1964 and 1966. The company was renamed Sharp Corporation in 1970.
Sharp produced the first LCD calculator in 1973. Sharp had a working relationship with Nintendo during the 1980s, and was granted licensing rights for the manufacture and development of the C1 NES TV , the Twin Famicom , the Sharp Famicom Titler , and the SF-1 SNES TV . All of these units are considered collectors items on the secondary market. One of the company's main inventors of LCD calculators was Tadashi Sasaki.Sharp introduced low-cost microwave ovens affordable for residential use in the late 1970s. Sharp ventured into the high end stereo market in 1976 with the introduction of high end receivers, amplifiers, speakers, turntables and cassette players. The Optonica line as it was called, consisted of high quality and technically advanced components, that was expanded in 1979, to cover a broader selection of high end equipment. During this run, Sharp introduced digital technology to some of the Optonica products, along with the traditional analogue products, and offered a complete selection of models ranging from low power high end receivers to very powerful models. The line was again changed, in 1981, and moved mainly into digital high end, complete stereo systems with advanced technological features setting the trend towards the digital age. The line was discontinued after 1981, but the Optonica line was again re-introduced in the late 1980s for a high end line of television receivers and higher quality mass market audio products such as VCR's, surround sound receivers, CD cassette boom boxes, and portable cassette players.
Sharp's Mobile Communications Division created the world's first commercial camera phone, the J-SH04, in Japan in 2000.Since 2000, Sharp heavily invested in LCD panel manufacturing plants: Kameyama in 2004, Sakai in 2009. The Sakai plant is still the only 10th generation LCD manufacturing plant on the globe and its best fit for production of 60-inch or larger panels. However, the 2008 financial crisis and strong Yen significantly lowered world demand for Japanese LCD panels. Furthermore, the switch to digital TV broadcasting was virtually completed in Japan by the middle of 2011. Via Japanese government issued coupons for digital TV sets, consumers were encouraged to purchase digital TV sets until March 2011. This hit the Japanese LCD TV market, reducing it almost by half from 2010. All of those events strongly hit Sharp's LCD business. As the result, the Sakai LCD plant suffered a reduced operating rate until Q3 2012.
In June 2005 Sharp produced the largest LCD television at the time, with a display of 65 inches. It went on sale in August 2005 in Japan.From 2005 to 2010 Sharp was the biggest mobile phone brand in Japan. Since then it has been constantly switching places through financial quarters against rivals Fujitsu, Apple and Sony.
Sharp acquired a controlling stake in Pioneer Corporation in 2007.At CES 2007, Sharp introduced a prototype largest LCD TV, with a screen size of 108 inches. In July 2008 Sharp announced that the model will go into production for the Japanese market.In 2008, Sharp collaborated with Emblaze Mobile on the Monolith, “…an ambitious project to design the ultimate holistic mobile device". The project was never brought to market. Key software developers were later picked up by other companies.
On 25 June 2009, Sharp and Pioneer agreed to form a joint venture comprising their optical businesses, called "Pioneer Digital Design and Manufacturing Corporation".In 2012 Sharp unveiled the largest production TV at the time, with a screen size of 80 inches. It is part of the Aquos range and went on sale in Japan at around JP¥950,000.
2012 was the 100th anniversary for Sharp but it announced the worst financial record in its history, with a loss of JP¥376 billion in April 2012. In September, Sharp announced job cuts. In 2014, Sharp was able to stem losses and deliver a positive net income for its first quarter results.In March 2012 the Taiwan-based electronics company Hon Hai, trading as Foxconn, agreed to acquire a 10% stake in Sharp Corporation for US$806 million, and to purchase up to 50 percent of the LCD displays produced at Sharp's plant in Sakai, Japan. In June 2012, Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou paid money for Sakai plant and got 50% ownership of the plant. However, since the announcement in March, Sharp's share price continued declining and reached JP¥192 on August 3rd. Sharp deal's price was originally JP¥550 per share. Both companies agreed to renegotiate the share price, but they never came to an agreement.Sharp led the market share of mobile phones in the Japanese market in April 2012. Sharp reportedly held 3rd place in mobile phone market share in the Japanese market in May 2015.Sharp announced it accepted a US$100 million investment from Samsung in March 2013.In 2013 Sharp developed the most efficient solar cell, converting a record 44.4% of sunlight into electricity. In 2013, Sharp Corporation was the tenth-largest, by market share, television manufacturer in the world. In Japan it has been a long-time leader.After years of huge losses in its overseas TV business, Sharp sold its Mexico TV factory to Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense for $23.7 million in July 2015. The sale includes rights to use the Sharp brand name and all its channel resources in North and South America, except Brazil. This meant that Sharp has exited the TV market in the Americas . It was a sign showing Sharp's rapid decline in that market, where it once was one of the leading manufacturers for LCD TVs a decade earlier. Sharp's television market share in North America was 4.6% in 2015. However Sharp remains the biggest television brand in the Japanese market.In October 2015 Sharp announced a smartphone that also works as a robot, called RoboHon. It would be sold in 2016 in Japan.Sharp began selling the world's first commercially available TV with a 8K resolution in October 2015. The 85-inch LV-85001 model costs JP¥16 million . Japanese public broadcaster NHK will have test broadcasts at 8K starting 2016, with regular services expected by the time of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.On 25 February 2016, Foxconn announced its intent to acquire a 66% controlling stake in Sharp for 700 billion yen . However, the deal was briefly delayed due to unforeseen financial liabilities; on 30 March 2016, Foxconn announced that it had agreed to pay US$3.5 billion for the stake instead, Foxconn wished to use the purchase to expand into direct-to-consumer product sales rather than serving as a contract manufacturer.In September 2016 Sharp unveiled the Sharp INTELLOS Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle at the ASIS International 62nd Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Orlando, Florida.In March 2017, Demolition of Sharp's former headquarters began.On 28 April 2017, Sharp turned its first operating profit in three years, citing the restructuring efforts by Foxconn.In June 2017, Sharp sued its Chinese licensee Hisense for damaging the reputation of its brand, seeking an exit from its licensing agreement. Sharp accused the company of producing "shoddily manufactured" televisions under the Sharp name, including products they believed were in violation of U.S. safety standards for electromagnetic radiation, and the subject of deceptive advertising over their quality. Hisense denied that it engaged in these practices, and stated that it planned to defend itself in court and "will continue to manufacture and sell quality televisions under the Sharp licensed brands." In February 2018, Sharp dropped the lawsuit against Hisense. In 2019 Sharp re-acquired its own brand for use on TV's in the US market.In March 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Sharp announced it would use a TV factory with high-end clean rooms to manufacture surgical masks.Sharp acquired the remaining shares of Dynabook from Toshiba in August 2020, making Dynabook a wholly owned subsidiary of Sharp. Sharp had first purchased Dynabook from Toshiba in 2018.
Yoshio Kosaka (Exec. Managing Officer and Head of Corp. Strategic Planning & Control Group)
Mr. Michael Kelly (Sr. VP of Sharp Manufacturing Company of America)
Yasufumi Sugahara (Exec. Officer and BU Pres of Smart Appliances & Solutions BU)
Tetsuji Kawamura (Exec. Officer & BU Pres of Smart Bus. Solutions BU)
Mr. James M. Sanduski (Pres of Sharp Home Electronics Company of America)
Recognition and Awards
Po-Hsuan Wu (Pres and CEO & Director)
Hsin-Shu Chen (Sr. Exec. Managing Officers and CFO & Head of Global Bus. Group)
Mr. Masahiro Okitsu (Exec. VP, Head of Smart Life Group and Digital Health Bus. Promotion Office & Director)