Corporate History

  1. 1917–
  2. 1980–
  3. 2000–
  4. 2010–

1917–

1917
Three of Japan's leading optical manufacturers merge to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kogaku K.K.

  • Photo:Nikon headquarters at the time was within Tokyo Keiki at 120 Haramachi, Koishikawa-ku, Tokyo (Hakusan 4 chome, Bunkyo-ku today).

1918
Oi Dai-ichi Plant (now Oi Plant) is completed

  • Photo:Oi Dai-ichi Plant in 1921. The tall building in the background is a five-story observatory.

1918
Research on manufacture of optical glass is initiated

1921
MIKRON 4x and 6x ultra-small-prism binoculars are marketed

  • Photo:The first binoculars developed, designed and manufactured by Nikon. They were reproduced in 1997.

1925
JOICO Microscope is marketed

The first microscope designed by Nikon. The trademark JOICO was from the initials of Japan Optical Industry Co., a translation of Nippon Kogaku K. K., the company's name at the time.

1931
An 8-inch astronomical telescope is installed at Tokyo Science Museum (today's National Museum of Nature and Science)

Nikon's first equatorial telescope had the largest diameter of any such telescope in Japan at the time. It was in use until 2005.

1932
NIKKOR is adopted as brand name for camera lenses

  • Photo:Publication of the NIKKOR trademark application. It was filed in July 1931, published in April 1932 and registered in December 1932.

1945
With the end of World War II, production shifts to cameras, microscopes, binoculars, surveying instruments, measuring instruments and ophthalmic lenses

1946
Pointal ophthalmic lens is marketed

1946
Nikon brand name is adopted for small-sized cameras

1947
Tilting Level E and Transit G surveying instruments are marketed

Nikon's first products after World War II were these surveying instruments.

  • Photo:On the left is Tilting Level E and on the right is Transit G2, which was an upgrade of Transit G and released in 1949.

1948
Nikon Model I small-sized camera is marketed

The first Nikon camera and the first product to bear the "Nikon" name. It was first sold as "Nikon," but "Model I" was added to the product name to distinguish it from subsequent cameras.

1948
Model I profile projector is marketed

A profile projector redesigned from a home-use model to incorporate the parallel beam illumination method and other features.

1949
Listed on both Tokyo and Osaka stock exchanges

1950
The New York Times introduces the superior features of Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses to the world

1952
nikkor club is established to promote photography culture

"nikkor club" was established with the help of Ihei Kimura, Ken Domon, Jun Miki, Yusaku Kamekura, Kenji Mizoguchi and Hideko Takamine.

  • Photo:Copies of the newsletter that was first published in 1953. The first issue is in the middle.

1953
Nikon Optical Co., Inc. (now Nippon Kogaku (U.S.A.) Inc.) is established in the U.S.

1954
Model SM stereoscopic microscope is marketed

The only product in Japan at the time that featured a three-step variator. The variator prevents focus drift during zooming and epi-fluorescence illumination.

1955
Phase contrast microscope is marketed

A microscope enabling observation of live colorless cells and bacteria.

1959
Nikon F SLR camera is marketed

Nikon's first lens-interchangeable SLR camera. It incorporated a number of world-first features, such as an exposure meter fully coupled with aperture and the practical application of a motor drive. It was considered a high-end SLR camera.

1961
Nikon AG is established in Switzerland

Founded in Zurich, Switzerland as a base for the development of the European market for cameras and other optical instruments.

1962
Ultra-micro Nikkor high-resolution optical lenses are marketed

Developed for the production of photomasks required for photolithography. The lens had the highest resolution of any lens at the time.

1963
NIKONOS all-weather camera is marketed

Designed to be water-/pressure-/corrosion-resistant, and positioned as an amphibious "All Weather" camera.

1963
Management buy-in of Sakura Electronic Industries, Ltd. (now Tochigi Nikon Corporation)

1964
Ruling Engine No. 1 is installed at Tokyo University of Education

The first ruling engine in Japan. Until the 1960s, it was known as the "fantasy machine," as the ultrahigh precision required for its manufacture was extremely difficult to achieve.

1967
Oi Plant's Ofuna site (now Yokohama Plant) is built

Established as a production base for microscopes, surveying instruments and measuring instruments after production at the Oi Plant had reached its limit. It was upgraded to the Yokohama Plant in 1970.

1968
Photo gallery Ginza Nikon Salon is opened (Shinjuku Nikon Salon is opened in 1971, Osaka Nikon Salon is opened in 1974)

Established with the aim of boosting Nikon's corporate image and the culture of photography. The first exhibition was "The Eyes of Ihei Kimura."

1968
K.K. Tachibana Seisakusho (corporate name changed to Mito Nikon Corporation in 1977, Mito Nikon Precision Corporation in 2007, dissolved in 2010) is established

Established as a new subsidiary for camera production in order to fortify Nikon's competitiveness and meet ever-increasing demand for SLR cameras.

1968
Rotary encoder RIE digital measuring instrument is marketed

1968
Nikon Europe N.V. (now Nikon Europe B.V.) is established in the Netherlands

Established in Amsterdam, the center of European industry, to further expand Nikon sales in Europe.

1969
Nikon Photo Contest International (now Nikon Photo Contest)

1971
Nikon Photomic FTN is mounted on APOLLO 15

Based on "Nikon Photomic FTN," modifications were made to specifications and materials, such as lubricating oil, based on special requests from NASA.

1971
Sendai Nikon Corporation is established

Established as a third subsidiary for production, it became a mass production factory, mainly for cameras.

1971
MND-2 extra-long-distance meter is marketed

Developed jointly with Mitsubishi Electric, this instrument made it possible for the first time in Japan to measure distance using light waves.

1971
Oi Plant's Sagamihara site (now Sagamihara Plant) is built

Established for the production of optical glass due to increased sales of NIKKOR lenses. Upgraded to the Sagamihara Plant in 1981.

1971
Nikon Vertriebs GmbH (now Nikon GmbH) is established in West Germany (now Germany)

Established in West Germany for sales of Nikon products such as cameras and optical equipment. The company name was changed to Nikon GmbH in 1975.

1976
Biophot and Metaphot microscopes are marketed

The world's first successful commercialization of a microscope objective lens for the CF system. The system was referred to as "the first innovation in 100 years."

Biophot microscope

1978
Nikko Engineering K.K. (now Nikon Engineering Co., Ltd.) is established

1978
Nikon Canada Inc. is established in Canada

Nikon took over a distributor in Canada to launch direct sales of cameras, microscopes and other products.

1979
Nikon U.K. Ltd. is established in the U.K.

Nikon acquired the photography division of a British distributor in order to be able to respond quickly to changes in the British camera market.