A Brief Narrative On Casio Watch History

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.

History

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.

Casio 10-Key Calculator

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.

The G-Shock

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.

The G-Shock line is the most popular Casio watch offering.

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.

Other Innovations

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.

An photo of a Casio Databank watch.

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.

The Casio BM-100WJ digital watch.

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.

Wrapping Up

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!

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10 thoughts on “A Brief Narrative On Casio Watch History”

  1. Hi Jerry, thanks for your post which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was rather amusing to read about the beginnings of this company. I love the ‘Yubiwa pipe’ – the hands-free smoking ring! Quite surreal…The first electric calculator must have been a major breakthrough for the Tadao brothers. The Casiotron – the wristwatch in the seventies – sounds amazing and intelligent, and the G-Shock sounds very familiar to me – I remember my dad buying one, we absolutely loved it as kids. I’d also love to have the BM-100WJ weather-predicting watch! I wonder – is there anything similar nowadays, such as a weather-predicting app..? What a cool article – I really liked it because it stirred memories of my childhood and also reinforced my faith in the Casio brand – I have a piano-keyboard made by them and I’m very satisfied with its quality. Thanks again for such an interesting read!

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading Lucie. Seeing Casio watches typically bring me back to my childhood days of bright colored digital watches! The G-Shock line is undoubtedly their most popular watch line and is one of the most recognizable watch lines in the world, so no surprise that it sounds familiar to you. Casio is a really high quality brand in my opinion when it comes to any of their products. Thanks again for your commentary!

      Reply
  2. Wow, this is a trip down memory lane for sure. I could have sworn that I had a Casio watch in the 70s but it must have been another digital watch (or another decade) as we couldn’t have afforded $200!

    Your post inspired me to check out the modern versions and I found a nice ladies watch in rose gold that has got 4.5 stars from nearly 5,000 reviews which is certainly saying something.

    Looking forward to checking out more of your posts.

    Best,

    Jean

    Reply
  3. I had something that looks like an A158W – I am checking the model number on eBay. I may actually still have it in a drawer somewhere or worse in the bottom of a box of bits at risk of being tossed about when I am looking for some other long-lost artifact. I think the first digital watch I had was with an LED display, not even an LCD. Or maybe I am thinking of my old Texas Instruments calculator that I could only afford after working an entire summer in a Coca-Cola bottling plant. That was for my first year in college and as an engineering undergrad, those first scientific calculators were quite a prize. They beat a slide rule hands down. I know I have splashed out on more exotic digital watches since then including some of these funky designs from Japan or China that display time in coded cryptic ways. But generally, I switched my wristwatch allegiance from quartz digital to analog mechanical years ago. Maybe I should go and dig out my old A158W, or whatever the model really was – just for old times sake. Best regards, Andy

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  4. Casio has been my go-to brand for years now. Even since my grandad gave me his watch, I was hooked to the brand because it always reminded me of a special someone.

    I recently bought the Casio Bluetooth Smart, but nothing feels as good as my pops’ one. I was, still am, and forever will be a Casio fan! This company is unique to me, and I believe many others around the world.

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading Gorjan! That’s awesome you have a watch that was passed down to you as a keepsake. The Casio brand is definitely unique and I’m sure others all across the globe feel the same. Casio’s Bluetooth Smartwatches look awesome, especially the G-Shock models.

      Reply
  5. It was very refreshing to read the history of Casio, I never really know much about it although my first watch was Casio so I do have an affinity towards this brand. Also, the calculators, I have used them a lot during my college days. The images in the post brought some evocative memories of my childhood days. Truly, Casio did make its presence felt in every household during the 70s and 80s across the world and I always loved it.

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed Satz! Casio definitely invokes feelings of nostalgia for me as well. The calculators were awesome and I remember using them in elementary school (maybe during times I wasn’t supposed to!) and when I come across some of them now, it just takes me back. The digital watches in my opinion are still really cool and worth adding to anyone’s collection!

      Reply

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