Sharp Corporation (シャープ株式会社, Shāpu Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese multinational corporation that designs and manufactures electronic products. Headquartered in Abeno-ku, Osaka, Japan, Sharp employed around 55,580 people worldwide as of June 2011. The company was founded in September 1912 and takes its name from one of its founder's first inventions, the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil, which was invented by Tokuji Hayakawa (早川 徳次) in 1915. Since then it has developed into one of the leading electronics companies in the world.
Sharp acquired a controlling stake in Pioneer Corporation in 2007. On 25 June 2009, Sharp and Pioneer agreed to form a joint venture comprising their optical businesses, called "Pioneer Digital Design and Manufacturing Corporation".
In 1912, Tokuji Hayakawa (早川 徳次) founded a metal workshop in Tokyo. The first of his many inventions was a snap buckle named 'Tokubijo'. Another of his major inventions was the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil in 1915, from which the Sharp Corporation took its name. After the pencil business was destroyed by the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, the company relocated to Osaka and began designing the first generation of Japanese radio sets. These went on sale in 1925. In 1953 Sharp started producing television sets.
In 1964 Sharp developed the world's first transistor calculator, which was priced at ¥535,000 (US$1,400). It took Sharp several years to develop the product as they had no experience in making computing devices at the time. Two years later, in 1966 Sharp introduced its first IC calculator using 145 Mitsubishi-made bipolar ICs, priced at ¥350,000 (about US$1000). Its first LSI calculator was introduced in 1969. This was the first pocketable calculator priced at less than ¥100,000 (less than US$300), and turned out to be a popular item.
Other notable achievements include the first LCD calculator in 1973. LCD technology continues to be a key part of Sharp's product range, in both the component and consumer-appliance sides of the business. Sharp shared a close working relationship with Nintendo during the 1980s, and was granted licensing rights for the manufacture and development of the C1 NES TV (1983, later released in North America as the Sharp Nintendo Television), the Twin Famicom (1986), the Sharp Famicom Titler (1989), and the SF-1 SNES TV (1990). All of these units are considered collectors items on the secondary market.
Sharp's Mobile Communications Division created the world's first commercial camera phone, the J-SH04, in Japan in 1997. In 2008 Sharp collaborated with Emblaze Mobile on the Monolith, "...an ambitious project to design the ultimate holistic mobile device". The project was never brought to market. Key software developers were later picked up by other companies.
In March 2012 the Taiwan-based electronics company Hon Hai (commonly known as Foxconn) agreed to acquire a 10 percent stake in Sharp Corporation for US$806 million, and to purchase up to 50 percent of the LCD displays produced at Sharp's plant in Sakai, Japan.
Core technologies and products include: LCD panels, solar panels, mobile phones, audio-visual entertainment equipment, video projectors, Multi-Function Printing Devices, microwave ovens, air conditioners, cash registers, CMOS and CCD sensors, and flash memory.
The first commercial camera phone was also made by Sharp for the Japanese market in November 2000. Recent products include the ViewCam, the Ultra-Lite notebook PC, the Zaurus personal digital assistant, Sidekick 3, and the AQUOS flat screen television.
Sharp manufactures a variety of consumer electronic products. These include LCD televisions, sold under the Aquos brand, mobile phones, microwave ovens, Home cinema and audio systems, air purification systems, fax machines and calculators.
For the business market, Sharp also produces ranges of projectors and monitors and a variety of photocopiers and Laser Printers, in addition to electronic cash registers and Point of sale technologies.
Sharp is a pioneer and innovator in the field of multi-functional devices (MFD) having won many awards from BLI and BERTL - the two major authorities providing competitive intelligence and test reviews in the print industry. SHARP's latest products - MX2600N and MX3100N have once again broken new ground with the launch of version 3 Open System Architecture (OSA3). This feature enhances productivity further still by letting third party developers directly integrate their business applications with the MFD.
Sharp Solar has for a number of years been a leading supplier of silicon photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. Now, it offers solar TV. In Q1 2010 they were rated the #1 producer of solar PV systems, in terms of revenues.