The Casio story: before G-Shock watches became famous brands.


The arms of a test robot made at a factory are raised and lowered, repeatedly dropping two G-Shock wristwatches over a concrete slab.

This movement was devised by Casio engineers because the company previously did not have the device at the Hamura research and development center, northwest of central Tokyo, to test a watch like the G-Shock.

An engineer after testing concluded that the watches remained in good condition despite being dropped every few seconds during the week. While G-Shock is known for its durability, equally impressive is that in April G-Shock celebrated its 37th anniversary on the market without being out of date.

G-Shock is one of the most famous among Casio products, although the company started in the post-war years by revolutionizing computers, before branching out into watches and cameras. digital instruments, musical instruments and a host of other electronics.

Casio was founded by Tadao Kashio, who was born in the Kochi district of southern Japan in 1917. His family moved to Tokyo when he was 5 years old, and Kashio started working as a lathe operator after school. high school.

The factory owner recognized something special about the young worker and encouraged him to study at Waseda Koshu Gakko, the predecessor of Waseda University, in between shifts.

After mastering the necessary skills to make household appliances, bicycle lights and a few other sundries, Kashio in 1946 established his own business, Kashio Seisakujo, in the Mitaka City of Tokyo.

As a subcontractor to the larger operators, Kashio is responsible for the production of gears and other technical components and equipment, then hires its three younger brothers, Toshio, Kazuo and Yukio. with me.

Toshio nurtured his ambition to be an inventor and an idol Thomas Edison. And even though he had extensive knowledge of electrical components and systems, it was an invention that was the first to simply get the public’s attention.

In the years immediately following Japan’s defeat in World War II, there was a shortage of basic goods and large productivity workers increased the proportion of tobacco users. Toshio has created a “yubiwa pipe”, a finger ring and a cigarette holder that allows the wearer to suck the part of the filter and at the same time keep his hands off.

Shigeru Kashio, the father of the guys doing product marketing and seeing the orders quickly pour in. This simple but ingenious creation has earned enough capital for the company to develop the product it was originally created for.

In the late 1940s, almost all computers in Japan used mechanical gears and a crank with the limitation of the device’s motor being too noisy and relatively slow. With his circuit knowledge, Toshio figured out how to solve many problems by using only electrical circuits instead of mechanical parts.

The first domestically produced electric computer was completed in 1954. The brothers proudly demonstrated it with Bunshodo, a business supplies business, but he said it was out of date because Cannot perform continuous multiplication.

After two years, when the old problem was resolved, the next hurdle was mass-producing equipment so large that a computer could occupy an entire room and a cooling filter system. The Kashio brothers revolutionized the design of electrical circuits, reducing the number of relays from thousands to a few hundred.

The final version of the computer has the keyboard set to a desktop, with the entire unit weighing 140kg (309lb) and costing 485,000 yen – $ 4,643 at today’s prices – and mass production Casio 14 -A started in 1957, the same year that the two brothers decided to take the name Casio Computer.

Each of the four family members is credited for bringing a unique expertise and strength to the company; Tadao for finance, Toshio for development, Kazuo for sales and Yukio for production.

To meet the growing demand, the first Casio factory was built in the west of Tokyo and by 1965, Casio had 50 stores across Japan and applied more electronic computers. vacuum tube. The technology allowed the brothers to significantly shrink their devices and introduce the concept of the memory function, which other companies have yet to come up with.

Driven by domestic success, Casio started exporting computers in September 1966 and established the European headquarters in Switzerland. A US office opened in 1970, followed by a German facility in 1972.

During the 1970s, the company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, opened new manufacturing plants in Japan, and expanded into the UK and other markets. In 1974 the company branched out into the watchmaking business with the Casiotron, the world’s first digital watch with a seamless calendar.

The 1980s were a period of further rapid development and innovation, with the company moving into the electronic musical instrument sector. The Casio logo is increasingly prominent on keyboards in an era known for its experimental electronic pop music. Casiotone was released in 1980 and the enhanced descendants of that keyboard are still in production to this day.

Then the company created the first solar-powered computer in 1981, their first electronic dictionary the same year and in 1983, the first digital diary and TV-10. , a pocket LCD TV. But another revolutionary design that year changed everything in watch technology.

“When I graduated high school, my father bought me a watch,” said Kikuo Ibe, an engineer at the company who came up with the idea of ​​G-Shock watches. I kept it up throughout college and even after I joined Casio. That watch is very important to me, and back then everyone had only one watch and they took great care of it.

One day, Ibe dropped it to the concrete floor and it broke into small pieces. That was when he realized he wanted to make an unbreakable watch.

However, in the 1980s, fashion was for lighter and thinner timepieces, while the watch Ibe suggested needed to be large and sturdy. Even after being approved to start the research and development process, he faced major obstacles.

“The problem is that when you design a watch, there are many different parts that can break like the coil, the screen, the bezel or something else,” he said. “We weren’t able to get all the ingredients strong enough to withstand the level of shocks we wanted.”

Still struggling to protect the watch’s interior, Ibe was resting in a park when he came up with an idea. He sees a child tossing a rubber ball on the floor and suddenly realizes that if his watch’s “brain” can “hover” like inside the ball, they will be protected from Shocks come from all angles.

Ibe began testing his prototypes by dropping them out of a third-floor window.

“The important idea is that the key parts of the watch will be ‘suspended’ inside the case, connected only at four points, meaning that whenever it is hit, there is no which part of the watch is completely affected. ”

Once the technology has been perfected, the next barrier that is equally difficult is public awareness. “When it first debuted in Japan, G-Shock was not well received,” admits Ibe. A short time later, it was also released in the US, and in order to sell the watch there, we had to prove its difficulty. ”

An ad on US TV showing ice hockey players throwing a G-Shock around caused a storm of viewers claiming it was fake. A TV show reenacted a hockey test and let a truck pass but G-shock successfully passed. The immediate response, G-Shock watches became famous in the United States for outdoor enthusiasts and those whose jobs were demanding that they failed at home.

It was not until 1990, when G-Shock made a big leap in the US to become a trend among skaters, that young Japanese noticed it. And when they imitated American fashion, G-Shock came.

Over the past two decades, the company has seen more technological breakthroughs, including shock- and water-resistant mobile phones, miniature computers and fingerprint verification devices.

One of its most recent releases, however, is the G-Shock MTG-B2000 watch, which launched in September. This latest innovation is made of metal and plastic, to keep the weight level. minimal but still provides the protection that Kikuo Ibe emphasizes on his designs.

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