Casio Computer Co., Ltd, or better known as just, Casio, is a Japanese consumer and commercial electronics manufacturing company. While they are largely known today for their watches, the company is actually involved with producing calculators, phones, and cameras, amongst other things. This post is going to briefly cover Casio watch history and how they made their impact on the industry.
In April 1946, Kashio Seisakujo was founded in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan, by the late Kashio Tadao. Kashio was a skilled engineer and after high school he began studying at Waseda Koshu Gakko at the encouragement of a factory owner he was employed by.
His first successful product was the called the yubiwa pipe. It was a ring that went around the finger and held a cigarette, allowing the user to smoke a cigarette hands-free.
With the yubiwa pipe being a major success, Tadao and his three younger brothers Toshio, Kazuo, and Yukio, were able to use the profits from their invention and use it to develop a new type of calculator.
During the first Business Show held in Ginza, Tokyo in 1949, the brothers took note to foreign-made electric calculators.
During this time in Japan, the hand operated calculator was the main type of calculator being used; it used gears and a hand crank.
Electric calculators that used a small motor to turn the gears were already appearing overseas, however, they couldn’t be manufactured in Japan due to needing a high level of expertise and special quality materials in order to process the parts.
However, Toshio, being skilled with electronics, felt that he could fix the issues of the current electric calculators by using all electrical circuits and no mechanical parts. After several prototypes, the brothers succeeded in making Japan’s first electric calculator in 1954.
In 1956, the brothers completed a calculator with a continuing multiplication function, something that prevented the first electric calculator they created from taking off.
They also adopted the 10-key number pad, while other calculators at the time were using a full keypad.
Another unique design that they adopted was the use of a single display window instead of three.
This led to the first successful compact calculator and the birth of the office calculator.
In June 1957, the Casio Computer Co., Ltd. was formed and the company released the Model 14-A, which sold for 485,000 yen. The Model 14-A was the world’s first all-electric compact calculator based on relay technology.
Casio & the Quartz Revolution
In the early 1970’s, Casio as a company decided that they needed to expand their product catalog due to the oversaturation of the calculator market.
Being a late comer in the watch industry and with the advent of quartz technology in watches, Casio decided to take advantage of the technology and make digital watches.
The goal was to target the consumers who wanted digital watches. In 1974, Casio released its first electronic wristwatch, the CASIOTRON.
The CASIOTRON was unique in that it not only showed the hours, minutes, and seconds, but could also automatically determine the amount of days in a month.
The display was a liquid crystal digital display and the price at the time of it’s release was about $200 USD, which made it very affordable in comparison to its Swiss and other Japanese counterparts.
From the mid-70’s through the mid-80’s, the trend in watchmaking was creating thin and lightweight watches.
However, Casio overturned that trend with the creation of the G-SHOCK DW-5000C in 1983.
Casio wanted a watch that had a rugged design and could handle the rigors of being dropped and banged up without breaking.
When it was first introduced it only caught on in certain markets, with the US being the biggest, due to the unique appearance. In 1994 the Baby-G SHOCK model for women was released.
Throughout the 90’s, the popularity of the G-SHOCK soared with the demand of the watch seeing its peak around 1998. By that time, Casio had released over 200 different G-SHOCK models and had sold 19 million units worldwide.
While the G-Shock was the watch that really put Casio on the map as a watchmaker, the Japanese company also had several other watches that were unique and cool during that time.
One such watch, The Databank Telememo 10 (CD-40), was one of the first digital watches developed in the 80’s that allowed the wearer to store info in the watch.
The databank function could save up to 10 groups of 16 letters or numerals.
As you could imagine, the watch was a game changer and eliminated the need to carry around a physical organizer.
The watch became a big hit and sold a total of 6 million units within 5 years after its initial release.
In 1985, Casio released an almost paper-thin watch which consisted of a watch and a plastic wristband, all in one piece. Called the PELA FS-10, it was developed using a new hybrid molding technology that combined plastic molding and microelectronics. It was measured to be 3.9 millimeters thick and weighed only 12 grams.
Released in 1989, The BM-100WJ was a digital watch that had a weather-prediction function.
The watch had an internal sensor that would measure the air pressure in three-hour increments and show that data on a bar graph display.
When the bar on the right-hand side went up, the weather would improve, and when it went down, the weather would worsen.
It could also inform the wearer of their altitude or underwater depth, approximately.
In the year 2000, the world would be introduced to the first wristwatch digital camera, the WQV-1 Wrist Camera.
It was a small and lightweight watch and camera combination that would allow wearers to take a photo and then check out the photo on the watch display. The watch could also transmit the image to another WQV-1 Wrist Camera or a personal computer.
In a lot of ways, Casio’s watchmaking expertise and creativity in the digital watch realm was somewhat of a predecessor to the smart watches of today.
While practically all of these features are found on today’s smartwatches, Casio, as well as other digital watchmakers, were ahead of the times during the initial release of these cool and unique watch features.
While Casio’s product lineup includes more than just watches and calculators, this article was written to cover Casio watch history and how the company impacted the watchmaking industry. In the 70s and 80s, Casio shook up the industry with their digital watches and went on to produce one of the most popular lines of watches period in the G-Shock, with the original G-Shock DW5000C being a highly sought-after collectors item.
What is your favorite Casio watch? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below!