Seiko Epson Corporation (セイコーエプソン株式会社, Seikō Epuson Kabushiki-gaisha), commonly known as Epson, is a Japanese electronics company and one of the world's largest manufacturers of computer printers, information and imaging related equipment. Headquartered in Suwa, Nagano, Japan, the company has numerous subsidiaries worldwide and manufactures inkjet, dot matrix and laser printers, scanners, desktop computers, business, multimedia and home theatre projectors, large home theatre televisions, robots and industrial automation equipment, point of sale docket printers and cash registers, laptops, integrated circuits, LCD components and other associated electronic components. It is one of three core companies of the Seiko Group, a name traditionally known for manufacturing Seiko timepieces since its founding.
The roots of Seiko Epson Corporation started with a company called Daiwa Kogyo, Ltd. that was founded in 1942 by Hisao Yamazaki, a local clock shop owner and former employee of K. Hattori, in Suwa, Nagano, Japan. Daiwa Kogyo was supported by an investment from the Hattori family (founder of the Seiko Group) and began as a manufacturer of watch parts for Daini Seikosha (currently Seiko Instruments). The company started operation in a 2,500-square-foot (230 m2) renovated miso storehouse with 22 employees.
In 1943, Daini Seikosha established a factory in Suwa for manufacturing Seiko watches with Daiwa Kogyo. In 1959, the Suwa Factory of Daini Seikosha was split up and merged into Daiwa Kogyo to form Suwa Seikosha Co., Ltd: the forerunner of the Seiko Epson Corporation. The company has developed many timepiece technologies. In particular, it developed the world's first portable quartz timer (Seiko QC-951) in 1963, the world's first quartz watch (Seiko Quartz Astron 35SQ) in 1969, the world's first automatic power generating quartz watch (Seiko Auto-Quartz) in 1988 and the Spring Drive watch movement in 1999. Manufacturing of watches is still the major part of businesses for Seiko Epson today. The watches made by the company are sold through the Seiko Watch Corporation, a subsidiary of Seiko Holdings Corporation.
In 1961, Suwa Seikosha established a company called Shinshu Seiki Co. as a subsidiary to supply precision parts for Seiko watches. When the Seiko Group was selected to be the official time keeper for the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, a printing timer was required to time events, and Shinshu Seiki started developing an electronic printer. In September 1968, Shinshu Seiki launched the world's first miniprinter, the EP-101 (EP stands for Electronic Printer,) which was soon incorporated into many calculators. In June 1975, the name Epson was coined into the next generation of printers based on the EP-101 which was released to the public. (EPSON:E-P-SON: SON of Electronic Printer). In April of the same year Epson America Inc. was established to sell printers for Shinshu Seiki Co.
In June 1978, the TX-80, eighty-column dot-matrix printer was released to the market, and was mainly used as a system printer for the Commodore PET Computer. After two years of further development, an improved model, the MX-80, was launched in October 1980. This was soon the best selling printer in the United States.
In July 1982, Shinshu Seiki officially named itself the Epson Corporation and launched the world's first handheld computer, HX-20 (HC-20), and in May 1983 the world's first portable color LCD TV was developed and launched by the company.
In November 1985, Suwa Seikosha Co., Ltd. and the Epson Corporation merged to form Seiko Epson Corporation.
The company developed the Micro Piezo inkjet technology, which used a piezoelectric crystal in each nozzle and did not heat the ink at the print head while spraying the ink onto the page, and released Epson MJ-500 inkjet printer (Epson Stylus 800 cartridge) in March 1993. Shortly after in 1994, Epson released the first high resolution color inkjet printer (720×720 dpi was considered as a high resolution), the Epson Stylus Color (P860A) utilizing the Micro Piezo head technology. Newer models of the Stylus series employed Epson’s special DURABrite ink. They also had two hard drives. The HD 850 and the HD 860 MFM interface. The specifactions are reference The WINN L. ROSCH Hardware bible 3rd addition SAMS publishing.
In 1994 Epson started outsourcing sales reps to help sell their products in retail stores in the United States. In 1994 Epson started the Epson Weekend Warrior sales program. The purpose of the program was to help improve sales, improve retail sales reps' knowledge of Epson products and to address Epson customer service in a retail environment. Reps were assigned on weekend shift, typically around 12–20 hours a week. Epson started the Weekend Warrior program with TMG Marketing (now Mosaic Sales Solutions), later with Keystone Marketing Inc, then to Mosaic and now with Campaigners INC. The Mosaic contract expired with Epson on June 24, 2007 and Epson is now represented by Campaigners Inc. Actually, their sales reps were not outsourced but rather Epson hired "rack jobbers" to ensure their retail customers displayed product properly. This freed up their regular sales force to concentrate on profitable sales solutions to VAR's and system integrators, leaving "retail" to reps who did not require sales skills.
In June 2003, the company became public following their listing on the 1st section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. As of 2009, the Hattori family and its related individuals and companies are still major shareholders of Seiko Epson and have the power. Even though Seiko Holdings and Seiko Epson have some common shareholders including the key members of the Hattori family, they are not affiliated. They are managed and operated completely independently. Epson has established its own brand image but rarely uses Seiko.
In 2004, Epson introduced their R-D1 digital RangeFinder Camera, which supports Leica M mount and Leica screw mount lenses with an adapter ring. This camera is the first digital rangefinder on the market. Because its sensor is smaller than that of the standard 35 mm film frame, lenses mounted on the R-D1 have the field view 1.53 times as long as that of the standard 35 mm camera. As of 2006 the R-D1 has been replaced by the R-D1s. The R-D1s is less expensive but its hardware is identical. Epson has released a firmware patch to bring the R-D1 up to the full functionality of its successor—the first digital camera manufacturer to make such an upgrade available for free.