50 years ago this month, in April 1968, EIZO was born, an important milestone in the history of visual display technology.
During the past five decades EIZO grew from humble beginnings as a small manufacturer, to a brand loved by many around the world. At the centre of EIZO is our dedication to excellence.
Our first step into the visual technology sector was as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of black & white TVs in Japan. In the late 1970s, EIZO began manufacturing tabletop video arcade games, playing a pivotal role in bringing ‘Space Invaders,’ to the world.
We started manufacturing monitors for enterprise customers in the 1980s. This led to an extension of EIZO monitors into specialty markets. Gradually, high-quality monitors became our core business.
20 years ago, EIZO was awarded the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Certification. Today, we are proud of our record as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of energy efficient monitors.
Throughout the long history of EIZO, unlike our competitors, we carry out all aspects of R&D, manufacturing and quality-control, in-house. We design our own semiconductors and develop our own software to complement EIZO hardware, creating more value for our customers. Our corporate culture of self-reliance distinguishes EIZO by providing complete solutions that are high quality and reliable, backed by a solid five-year guarantee.
“In the years to come we will further expand our imaging expertise to continually meet our customers’ expectations and realise a prosperous future through the value of images as only EIZO can”
- Yoshitaka Jitsumori, President & CEO of EIZO Corporation.
Our entire team at EIZO APAC is thrilled to be part of a global company that has proved its staying power by investing in what customers want, pushing the R&D envelope to ensure it leads the marketplace. In commemorating this milestone, we will be sharing more of the special stories that made EIZO the company it is today.
Yes, 2018 marks our golden anniversary - that's 50 years of manufacturing the best visual technology products, aka monitors, for YOU! To commemorate this momentous event, we will be posting interesting info about us throughout the year.
The beginning of EIZO (the group) dates back to 1967. Nanao Electric Co., Ltd. was founded in Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture, and started by subcontracting production of a 14-inch monochrome TV the following year. Through the production of this monochrome television, the company gained a thorough quality control and mass production technique, and the starting point for its adherence to high-quality manufacturing was established.
In 1978, we began OEM (original equipment manufacturer) production for the smash hit arcade game Space Invaders. This game was originally in black and white, but did you know that it's EIZO that colorized it? This was a demonstration of the development capabilities we had cultivated in TVs and other products.
In 1981, we built a factory in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture, where EIZO Corporation is now located. We expanded our production scale including our factory in Nanao, and started OEM production of video cassette recorders (VCRs) and radio cassette TVs in addition to CRT monitors for video games.
In the 1980s, PC use began to spread. In 1981, EIZO began OEM production of computer monitors, but as time passed our desire grew to release them to the world using our own brand name. Finally in 1985 we did just that with the release of a 12-inch CRT monitor called the "7030."
The first market we chose for the EIZO brand of CRT monitors was Europe because it is a culture that recognizes good quality. We decided to name our brand "EIZO" which is the Japanese word for "image." With the imaging technology we had cultivated as our foundation, we were determined to produce superb imaging products from then on.
In 1984, prior to completing our own brand of products, we went looking for distributors in Europe who would sell EIZO products. The most important consideration was whether or not they embraced the idea of selling "a good product at a reasonable price." We first signed contracts with distributors in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands. We then expanded our sales network into Austria and Sweden. A part of these distributors form the base of our current group companies and continue to sell EIZO products today.
In 1985, we expanded into the US by opening an office in California. Balancing quality and price in such a large country proved difficult, which made selling a challenge. But selling graphics boards with monitors that could display high resolutions proved to be a winning strategy and sales gradually improved.
The EIZO Group currently consists of 7 companies in Japan and 10 outside of Japan. Once every year, representatives from all EIZO group companies and sales distributors gather at the EIZO headquarters in Japan for an event called "EIZO United", where they can deepen their understanding of EIZO by seeing the latest products under development and having face-to-face meetings. In 2017, 86 people from 29 countries attended.
We have our own system for naming the meeting rooms at our headquarters in Japan. Each room is named after a city where one of our group companies is located. So, we are apt to say something like "The meeting will be held in Vienna." (Wien in German.)
At EIZO GmbH, one of our group companies in Germany, meeting rooms are named after cities in Japan. These cities include Hakusan (where the EIZO home office is located) and more well-known cities like Kyoto and Osaka.
PCs in the 1980s and 1990s only supported low resolutions so graphics boards that could display high-resolution images were necessary. We developed our own graphics board and sold it as a set with the 9070S CRT monitor. In an era where 14 inches was the normal size we offered a 16-inch monitor which proved to be a hit in not only Europe, but the US as well.
By the end of the 1980s, EIZO CRT monitors had become highly regarded overseas and began to appear in Japan as reverse imports. Since the image quality of CRT monitors is affected by geomagnetism, we set up an area at our factory in Japan that reproduces the geomagnetism of the region the monitors were to be shipped to, and adjusted the image quality of each monitor individually. If used outside the intended area, color would not be displayed correctly which meant the EIZO monitors imported back to Japan may not have worked as intended. In 1991, we began the manufacture and sales of monitors for Japan under the brand name "NANAO" which was also the name of our company at the time.
In the early 1990s, CRT monitors reigned supreme. The transition to LCDs was anticipated, but commercialization was still a ways off in terms of technology and cost. However, EIZO got a head start by developing and producing the FA-1020 LCD monitor in 1993. The price at the time was one million Japanese yen (about 8,900 in today's US dollars), and the product was a commercial flop, but our penchant for actively embracing the latest technology was embedded in our DNA 25 years ago with this product.
In the 1990s, we were engulfed in intense price competition due to the influence that the introduction of the Euro had on exchange rates and to the entry of major PC makers into the monitor market. In addition, shifting production to Southeast Asia where personnel expenses were lower was common. Prices declined worldwide and our business suffered. As a countermeasure, we decided to design a manufacturing line and train local workers as part of a plan to outsource production of monitors to Singapore. But then something happened.
(From last week) We decided to cancel our plan to outsource production to Singapore just before implementation. The reason - a company that emphasizes cost and shifts production overseas is one that will come to rely on simple cost reduction measures in the future. We feared this would destroy the corporate culture we had built up from pursuing high quality and high reliability. Instead of changing our production base, we switched to a policy of reducing costs by fundamentally changing the design. As a result of this incident in 1994, we succeeded in greatly lowering the price of our monitors while maintaining the quality and being chosen by even more customers.
In 1996, we unified our brand worldwide as EIZO after being known as EIZO in Europe and NANAO in Japan and North America. This brand unification led to further global expansion.
Check back next Wednesday for the next insight. #eizois50