EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 0

EIZO Corporation will celebrate our 50th anniversary on April 1st, 2018.  To commemorate, every Wednesday for the next 50 weeks we will post an Episode or piece of trivia from our past. Of course, we will also post news about any new products.

Enjoy!

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 1

The beginning of EIZO (the group) dates back to 1967. Nanao Electric Co., Ltd. was founded in Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture, and started by subcontracting the production of a 14-inch monochrome TV the following year. Through the production of this monochrome television, the company gained a thorough quality control and mass production technique, and the starting point for its adherence to high-quality manufacturing was established.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 2

In 1978, we began the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) production for the smash hit arcade game Space Invaders. This game was originally in black and white, but did you know EIZO colourised it?

This was a demonstration of the development capabilities we had cultivated in TVs and other products.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 3

In 1981, we built a factory in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture, where the EIZO Corporation is now located. We expanded our production scale including our factory in Nanao and started the OEM production of video cassette recorders (VCRs) and radio cassette TVs in addition to CRT monitors for video games.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 4

In the 1980s, PC use began to spread. In 1981, EIZO began the OEM production of computer monitors, but as time passed our desire grew to release them to the world using our own brand name. Finally, in 1985 we did just that with the release of a 12-inch CRT monitor called the "7030."

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 5

The first market we chose for the EIZO brand of CRT monitors was Europe because it is a culture that recognises good quality. We decided to name our brand "EIZO" which is the Japanese word for "image." With the imaging technology we had cultivated as our foundation, we were determined to produce superb imaging products from then on.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 6

In 1984, prior to completing our own brand of products, we went looking for distributors in Europe who would sell EIZO products. The most important consideration was whether or not they embraced the idea of selling "a good product at a reasonable price."

We first signed contracts with distributors in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands. We then expanded our sales network into Austria, Sweden and Greece. A part of these distributors form the base of our current group companies and continue to sell EIZO products today. 

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 7

In 1985, we expanded into the US by opening an office in California. Balancing quality and price in such a large country proved difficult, which made selling a challenge. But selling graphics boards with monitors that could display high resolutions proved to be a winning strategy and sales gradually improved.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 8

The EIZO Group currently consists of 7 companies in Japan and 10 outside of Japan. Once every year, representatives from all EIZO group companies and sales distributors gather at the EIZO headquarters in Japan for an event called "EIZO United" where they can deepen their understanding of EIZO by seeing the latest products under development and having face-to-face meetings. In 2017, 86 people from 29 countries attended.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 9

We have our own system for naming the meeting rooms at our headquarters in Japan. Each room is named after a city where one of our group companies is located. So, we are apt to say something like "The meeting will be held in Vienna." (Wien in German.)

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 10

At EIZO Europe GmbH, one of our group companies in Germany, meeting rooms are named after cities in Japan. These cities include Hakusan (where the EIZO home office is located) and more well-known cities like Kyoto and Osaka.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 11

Now we return to introducing events from our past. PCs in the 1980s and 1990s only supported low resolutions so graphics boards that could display high-resolution images were necessary. We developed our own graphics board and sold it as a set with the 9070S CRT monitor. In an era where 14 inches was the normal size we offered a 16-inch monitor which proved to be a hit in not only Europe, but the US as well.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 12

By the end of the 1980s, EIZO CRT monitors had become highly regarded overseas and began to appear in Japan as reverse imports. Since the image quality of CRT monitors is affected by geomagnetism, we set up an area at our factory in Japan that reproduces the geomagnetism of the region the monitors were to be shipped to, and adjusted the image quality of each monitor individually. If used outside the intended area, colour would not be displayed correctly which meant the EIZO monitors imported back to Japan may not have worked as intended. In 1991, we began the manufacture and sales of monitors for Japan under the brand name "NANAO" which was also the name of our company at the time.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 13

In the early 1990s, CRT monitors reigned supreme. The transition to LCDs was anticipated, but commercialization was still a ways off in terms of technology and cost. However, EIZO got a head start by developing and producing the FA-1020 LCD monitor in 1993. The price at the time was one million Japanese yen (about 8,900 in today's US dollars), and the product was a commercial flop, but our penchant for actively embracing the latest technology was embedded in our DNA 25 years ago with this product.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 14

In the 1990s, we were engulfed in intense price competition due to the influence that the introduction of the Euro had on exchange rates and to the entry of major PC makers into the monitor market. In addition, shifting production to Southeast Asia where personnel expenses were lower was common. Prices declined worldwide and our business suffered. As a countermeasure, we decided to design a manufacturing line and train local workers as part of a plan to outsource production of monitors to Singapore. But then something happened.

To be continued next week

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 15

Continued from last week

We decided to cancel our plan to outsource production to Singapore just before implementation. The reason was that a company that emphasizes cost and shifts production overseas is one that will come to rely on simple cost reduction measures in the future. We feared this would destroy the corporate culture we had built up from pursuing high quality and high reliability. Instead of changing our production base, we switched to a policy of reducing costs by fundamentally changing the design. As a result of this incident in 1994, we succeeded in greatly lowering the price of our monitors while maintaining the quality and being chosen by even more customers.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 16

In 1996, we unified our brand worldwide as EIZO after being known as EIZO in Europe and NANAO in Japan and North America. This brand unification led to further global expansion.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 17

The colour of the EIZO logo used since 1996 represents RGB (Red, Green, Blue) constituting the three primary colours of light. In addition, various meanings and thoughts were included in the design.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 18

In addition to renewing the EIZO brand logo in 1996, we also changed the product design. We changed not only the appearance, but also reviewed the internal design of the monitor from the ground up. In order to give it a more "human friendly" design* we incorporated the idea of ergonomics. This CRT monitor design received the Good Design Award's "Long Life Design Award" in 2007 from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

*When the monitor was installed with its back parallel to the wall (perpendicular to the floor), the screen slightly angled upwards to incorporate the fact that one's natural line of sight faces downward.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 19

In March 1997 we launched full-scale marketing of LCD monitors. The first model, the 13.8-inch FlexScan L23, had a standard price of about $3500 in today's US dollars. In November of the same year, we released the 15-inch FlexScan L34. Because LCD monitors at the time had low resolutions and high prices compared to CRTs, initial sales were sluggish but they were gradually adopted for use in dealing rooms of financial institutions. Because one user used multiple monitors, adopting LCD monitors was much more effective in reducing installation space and power consumption compared to CRT monitors.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 20

Based on the needs of financial institutions, in 1998 we developed and began selling the world's first 18-inch 1280 x 1024 resolution monitor, the FlexScan L66, aiming for larger size and higher resolution. In anticipation of use in dealing rooms, the L66 was available in the free mount type for attaching to an arm mount as well as the usual desktop type.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 21

In 2001, we released the 18.1-inch FlexScan L675 which realised the world's narrowest bezel width at the time of just 19 mm. It became a hit product with financial institutions. In addition to the narrow bezel width, it realised a height adjustable stand and screen rotation mechanism. In terms of image quality, it used an IPS panel with a wide viewing angle, so it had specifications that could be considered as a prototype of today's LCD monitor.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 22

We achieved a bezel width of 19 mm in 2001, then we achieved 11 mm in 2004, 6.9 mm in 2006, and finally 1 mm in 2015. Changing the structure of the liquid crystal panel as well as the evolution of the mechanical design of the monitor made it possible to narrow the frame to this point. The immersive feeling on the screen increases, and when you arrange multiple monitors side by side the non-display area between the screens becomes smaller allowing for use without any discomfort.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 23

In commemoration of our fifth anniversary of the full-scale introduction of LCD monitors in 1997, we released 3,000 units worldwide of a limited edition 17-inch monitor called the FlexScan PLACEO in 2002. We overcame many challenges with the cabinet and surface such as making it from aluminium, with hair-line processing, shot blasting, and diamond cut processing.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 24

Based on the trend of transferring X-rays and other medical images from film to data, we developed LCD monitors for medical image display and began selling them in 2002. Doing so required accurately expressing the subtle shading of X-ray images. In order to learn the basics of medical imaging we did things such as invite radiologists to give lectures to our employees.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 25

EIZO not only develops and produces monitors for mammography but also sponsors seminars for doctors in countries such as Japan, the USA and Russia.

Also, on Pink Ribbon Day in October not only Japan but EIZO employees from around the world wear pink and conduct educational activities for breast cancer screening.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 26

In 2003 we began developing and marketing LCD monitors for creative work markets such as photography and printing. At the time, it was still commonly recognised that the image quality of LCD monitors was inferior to that of CRT monitors, so we developed advanced functions such as hardware calibration to realize excellent image quality.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 27

In the camera industry there are three major camera awards - TIPA and EISA in Europe and the Camera Grand Prix (DGP) in Japan. EIZO ColorEdge monitors have won all three - TIPA in 2005/2007/2009/2010, EISA in 2017, and the Grand Prix in 2008.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 28

EIZO introduced a "working casual" (smart casual) dress code in 2003 in Japan. At the time, most companies in Japan had an informal dress code where suits were the norm. The idea behind this new dress code was to promote a work environment with more free thought.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 29

In 2004, we began the development, production and sale of home LCD TVs in Japan with the aim of enhancing our video display technology. From this, FORIS.TV was born, with a fixation on "natural image," "natural sound," and "functional design with presence". The blue body colour was based on the azure blue used in an important cultural asset called the "Seisonkaku Villa" in the city of Kanazawa which is next to the city of Hakusan where the EIZO headquarters is located. 

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 30

In 2007 we established a 6-story research and development building at our headquarters in Hakusan city, Ishikawa prefecture. The purpose was to enhance development capacity, mobility, and efficiency, as well as to improve design quality. From the top floor, both Mt. Hakusan and the Sea of Japan are visible. The first floor serves as our company cafeteria where everyone from general employees to executives have lunch.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 31

In 2007, we acquired Tech Source (currently EIZO Rugged Solutions Inc.) in the USA. At the time, the company primarily developed graphics boards for air traffic control. With this acquisition, we made a full-fledged entry into the air traffic control market.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 32

In 2007 we acquired the medical monitor business from Siemens AG in Germany and founded EIZO GmbH. The company has strengths in the field of medical image devices and operating rooms. By combining them with the expertise in reference viewing of diagnostic images we had at that time, it became possible to further strengthen our position in the healthcare market.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 33

In 2009, we acquired the monitor and controller board business from eg-electronic of Germany. This company was engaged in the development, production, and sales of industrial monitors and air traffic control (ATC) monitors. This acquisition and the acquisition of Tech Source (developer of graphics boards for ATC) in 2007, allowed us to further strengthen our business in the ATC market.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 34

On April 1, 2013, we changed our company name from EIZO Nanao Corporation to EIZO Corporation. The purpose of matching the brand name and the company name was to increase our global name recognition and achieve further growth.  It was also a commitment to continue to respond to market expectations with video technology at our core.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 35

In October of 2015, we acquired Imation Corporation's medical system integration business in Japan through EIZO Medical Solutions Inc. The goal was to create a strong synergy by taking the hardware and software technology from our monitors and combining it with our expertise in quality control.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 36

In 2016, we acquired the endoscopy monitor business from Panasonic Healthcare Co., Ltd. In 2017, we developed and began selling our first 3D surgical monitors under the EIZO brand.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 37

EIZO offers products and services to various markets today which are loved by customers around the world. We introduce a small number of them on our case studies page so please have a look and see how customers around the world use EIZO.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 38

EIZO MS Corporation in Hakui City, Ishikawa Prefecture, manufactures circuit boards used for EIZO monitors. Hundreds of tiny electronic parts such as capacitors are attached to the printed circuit boards and various inspections are carried out. The manufacturing of this circuit board is actually a very important point for the high reliability of EIZO monitors, so we undertake it ourselves within our company. The EIZO mark is stamped firmly on the board.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 39

More than 80% of EIZO products are produced at the head office factory in Hakusan, Japan. In order to produce a wide range of products ranging from mass produced models to models produced in small quantities such as custom-made products, multiple types of production environments are used. One of them is an assembly process with a conveyor belt. It is suitable for mass production of the same model, mainly producing FlexScan monitors.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 40

After assembly, the monitor is still not ready to be shipped. It first goes through a process called "aging." By turning on the power to the monitor for a certain period of time and displaying the screen, the aim is to stabilize the circuit inside the monitor and detect any initial failure. By the way, can you see that the brightness and colour of each monitor's screen is different in the picture? Actually, there are individual differences in the liquid crystal panel, and the difference comes out like this just by assembling. Therefore, the process of "adjustment" that follows this is very important.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 41

fter the aging process, we adjust each monitor and then inspect them one by one. Through this survey and inspection process, the variation between products mentioned in last week's post are removed. Even when using multiple EIZO monitors side by side, the difference in colour and brightness between each screen is small, so you can use it with little discomfort.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 42

Another one of the multiple production methods is cell production, which involves the aging, adjustment, and inspection of each unit. This is a production method suitable for high-variety, low-volume production, and what we use to produce RadiForce monitors for the healthcare market and ColorEdge for creative work. Colour and brightness adjustments are much more detailed than for FlexScan and take more time. A special adjustment process to eliminate differences in brightness across the screen is also part of this production method.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 43

In a new factory which began operation in July 2016 at our headquarters in Japan, we employ a hybrid production method which adopts the good points of the conveyor belt method and the cell production method. After the assembly process, the monitor is automatically transported to a 3-story adjustment rack, where a movable adjustment camera system adjusts each monitor individually. By using this system, we can produce various types of monitors more flexibly.

EIZO 50th Anniversary - Episode 44

We have introduced various processes for producing our monitors. Many of these processes are automated, but the last one is a visual check conducted by our employees. Only experienced workers may conduct this check.