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.
The colours in the EIZO logo, used since 1996, represent RGB (Red, Green, Blue) constituting the three primary colors of light. In addition, various meanings and thoughts were included in the design. Take a detailed look here.
In addition to renewing the EIZO brand logo in 1996, we also changed the product design. We changed not only the appearance, but also reviewed the internal design of the monitor from the ground up. In order to give it a more "human friendly" design* we incorporated the idea of ergonomics. This CRT monitor design received the Good Design Award's "Long Life Design Award" in 2007 from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.
*When the monitor was installed with its back parallel to the wall (perpendicular to the floor), the screen slightly angled upwards to incorporate the fact that one's natural line of sight faces downward.
In March 1997 we launched full-scale marketing of LCD monitors. The first model, the 13.8-inch FlexScan L23, had a standard price of about $3500 in today's US dollars. In November of the same year, we released the 15-inch FlexScan L34. Because LCD monitors at the time had low resolutions and high prices compared to CRTs, initial sales were sluggish but they were gradually adopted for use in dealing rooms of financial institutions. Because one user used multiple monitors, adopting LCD monitors was much more effective in reducing installation space and power consumption compared to CRT monitors.
Based on the needs of financial institutions, in 1998 we developed and began selling the world's first 18-inch 1280 x 1024 resolution monitor, the FlexScan L66, aiming for larger size and higher resolution. In anticipation of use in dealing rooms, the L66 was available in the free mount type for attaching to an arm mount as well as the usual desktop type.
In 2001, we released the 18.1-inch FlexScan L675 which realized the world's narrowest bezel width at the time of just 19 mm. It became a hit product with financial institutions. In addition to the narrow bezel width, it realized a height adjustable stand and screen rotation mechanism. In terms of image quality, it used an IPS panel with a wide viewing angle, so it had specifications that could be considered as a prototype of today's LCD monitor.
We achieved a bezel width of 19 mm in 2001, then we achieved 11 mm in 2004, 6.9 mm in 2006, and finally 1 mm in 2015. Changing the structure of the liquid crystal panel as well as the evolution of the mechanical design of the monitor made it possible to narrow the frame to this point. The immersive feeling on the screen increases, and when you arrange multiple monitors side by side the non-display area between the screens becomes smaller allowing for use without any discomfort.
In commemoration of our fifth anniversary of the full-scale introduction of LCD monitors in 1997, we released 3,000 units worldwide of a limited edition 17-inch monitor called the FlexScan PLACEO in 2002. We overcame many challenges with the cabinet and surface such as making it from aluminum, with hair-line processing, shot blasting, and diamond cut processing.
Based on the trend of transferring X-rays and other medical images from film to data, we developed LCD monitors for medical image display and began selling them in 2002. Doing so required accurately expressing the subtle shading of X-ray images. In order to learn the basics of medical imaging we did things such as invite radiologists to give lectures to our employees.
Check back next Wednesday for the next insight. #eizois50