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Olympus Corporation
Type Corporation TYO: 7733
Founded 1919
Founder(s) Takeshi Yamashita[1]
Headquarters Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Key people Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, Representative Director & President
Industry Imaging
Products Precision machineries and instruments, Cameras, Voice recorders, Medical endoscopes and other medical devices
Revenue 12.48B USD (Fiscal year ended March 2008)
Employees 2,907 (as of April 1, 2005; non-consolidated Olympus Corp. only)
Website Olympus Global

Olympus Corporation (オリンパス株式会社 Orinpasu Kabushiki-gaisha?) is a Japan-based company that manufactures optics and imaging products. Olympus was established on October 12, 1919, initially specialized in microscope and thermometer businesses[2]. It is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, while its United States' operations are based in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, and European operations are based in Hamburg, Germany.


Company name

The company is named after Mount Olympus, the home of the 12 supreme gods and goddesses in Greek mythology[1]. In the words of the company, they chose the name to "reflect its strong aspiration to create high quality, world famous products".

In Japanese mythology, eight million gods and goddesses live in Takamagahara, the peak of Mt. Takachiho. (Takachiho is the name of the predecessor of Olympus Corporation.) The company selected the name "Olympus" as the trademark because Mt. Olympus, like Mt. Takachiho, was the home of gods and goddesses. This trademark also represents what Olympus says is their aspiration to illuminate the world with its optical devices, just like Takamagahara brought light to the world.

Takachiho Seisakusho changed to Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd. in 1942 when optical products became the mainstay of the company. In 1949, the name changed again, to Olympus Optical Co., Ltd., in an attempt to enhance its corporate image. In 2003, the company changed again, to Olympus Corporation, to unify the corporate name and the well-known brand.

Since its foundation in 1919, the company has gone through a few name changes. "Olympus" has been used as a trademark since the time of Takachiho Seisakusho, the predecessor of Olympus Corporation. Below is a table of corporate names Olympus has used.[1]

Date Notes
October 12, 1919 Established as Takachiho Seisakusho
May 28, 1942 Renamed Takachiho Optical Co., Ltd
January 1, 1949 Renamed Olympus Optical Co., Ltd
October 1, 2003 Renamed Olympus Corporation

The company has had five different logos.

Logo created in 1919. The first corporate logo was "TOKIWA", not "OLYMPUS". "TOKIWA" derived from Tokiwa Shokai, the company that the founder, Takeshi Yamashita, had worked for. Tokiwa Shokai held an equity stake in Takachiho Seisakusho and was responsible for marketing Takachiho products. The logo reads "TOKIWA TOKYO." The "G" and "M" marks above are believed to be the initials of, Goro Matsukata, the president of Tokiwa Shokai.

Logo created in 1921. The Olympus brand was introduced in February 1921. This logo was used for microscopes and other products. Brochures and newspaper ads for cameras also sported this logo. The "OLYMPUS TOKYO" logo is still in use today.

Second logo created in 1921. There was a period in which OIC was used instead of TOKYO in the logo. OIC stood for Optical Industrial Company, which was a translation of Olympus' Japanese corporate name at that time. This logo was used for the GT-I and GT-II endoscopes, among others.

Logo created in 1970. This logo, used from 1970 to 2000, was designed to give impressions of quality and sophistication.

Logo created in 2001. The yellow line underneath the logo is called the "Opto-Digital Pattern" and it represents light and boundless possibilities of digital technology. It symbolizes dynamic and innovative nature of Opto-Digital Technology and Olympus Corporation. This logo is called the Communication Symbol of Olympus and it represents Olympus' brand image.


Olympus E-420 Four Thirds entry-level DSLR with 14-42mm kit ZD photographic lens

Olympus has a long history in camera and lens design. In 1936, Olympus introduced its first camera, the Semi-Olympus I. The first truly innovative camera series from Olympus was the PEN models, launched in 1959. Half-frame format, allowing 72 pictures of 18 × 24 mm format on a standard 36 exposure roll of film, made PEN cameras compact and portable for their time.

Olympus OM Lenses

The PEN system design team, led by Yoshihisa Maitani, later created the OM system, a full frame professional 35 mm SLR system designed to compete with Nikon and Canon's bestsellers. The OM system introduced a new trend towards more compact cameras and lenses, being much smaller than its competitors and presenting innovative design features such as through-the-lens flash automation. Eventually the system included 14 different bodies and approximately 60 Zuiko-branded lenses.

Olympus Quick Flash camera

However, Olympus did not move into the autofocus market in the way their competitors did, ultimately leading to their decline as a maker of professional film camera systems[citation needed].

The company is a leading manufacturer of digital cameras, with a large range of compact digital cameras. Olympus is the designer of the Four-Thirds System standard for digital single-lens reflex camera design and development, which uses the same frame size as the PEN cameras. The Four-Thirds system includes the first consumer-grade digital SLRs to feature live preview, a feature now adopted by all major DSLR makers. Olympus' flagship DSLR camera is the E-3 released in 2007. Olympus is also the largest manufacturer of Four-Thirds lenses under the Zuiko brand; these lenses are known for their good optical quality and compactness. Olympus cameras originally only took the xD-Picture Card proprietary format (which it shares with Fujifilm), which has driven away some consumers. Recent cameras have included compatibility with the Secure Digital (SD) card format with their compact range and Compact Flash with their dSLR's in hopes of winning back customers.

In 1983, Olympus, along with Canon, branded a range of video recording equipment manufactured by JVC[citation needed], and called it "Olympus Video Photography", even employing renowned photographer Terance Donovan to promote the range[citation needed]. A second version of the system was available the year after, but this was Olympus' last foray into the world of consumer video equipment until digital cameras became popular[citation needed].

Since the beginning, the company has also been a manufacturer of microscopes and optics for specialised needs, such as medical use. The first microscope manufactured at Olympus was called the Asahi[3]. Nowadays Olympus is a worldwide renowned manufacturer of microscopes. Olympus offers a complete range of microscopes, which covers applications from education and routine studies up to state of the art research imaging systems both in life science and materials science.

Olympus also invented the Microcassette[citation needed]. The Olympus Pearlcorder L400, released in the 1980s, was the smallest and lightest Microcassette Voice recorder ever offered for sale, 2.9 (L) × 0.8 (H) × 2.0 in. (W) / 73 (L) × 20 (H) × 52 (W) 3.2 oz[4].

Olympus Diagnostics

Olympus also manufactures and provides client support for its fully automated random access automated analysers for clinical chemistry, immuno chemistry, and blood grouping. Two prominent clinical chemistry analyzers are models AU400, AU640 and AU2700. These analyzers are used in medical laboratories by medical technologists. Other Olympus products used in the clinical laboratory are microscopes utilized by the microbiology and hematology departments. Many Olympus imaging products are used in hospital endoscopy departments. The whole diagnostic business was sold to Beckman Coulter in August 2009. [5]

See also


External links



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