The origins of Canon date back to the founding of Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory in Japan in 1937 by Takeshi Mitarai, Goro Yoshida, Saburo Uchida and Takeo Maeda. During its early years, the company did not have any facilities to produce its own optical glass, and its first cameras incorporated Nikkor lenses from Nippon Kogaku K.K.
Between 1933 and 1936 ‘The Kwanon’, a copy of the Leica design, Japan’s first 35 mm focal-plane-shutter camera, was developed in prototype form. In 1940 Canon developed Japan’s first indirect X-ray camera. Canon introduced a field zoom lens for television broadcasting in 1958 and in 1959 introduced the Reflex Zoom 8, the world’s first movie camera with a zoom lens, and the Canonflex.
In 1961 Canon introduced the Rangefinder camera, Canon 7, and 50mm 1:0.95 lens in a special bayonet mount. In 1964 Canon introduced the ‘Canola 130’, the first Japanese made 10-key calculator, a substantial improvement on the design of the British Bell Punch company, which introduced the first fully electronic calculator two years earlier with the Sumlock Anita Mark 8 unit. In 1965 Canon introduced the Canon Pellix, a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera with a semi-transparent stationary mirror which enabled the taking of pictures through the mirror.
In 1971, Canon introduced the Canon F-1, a high-end SLR camera, and the FD lens range. In 1976, Canon launched the Canon AE-1, the world’s first camera with an embedded micro-computer.
Canon introduced Canon Electro-Optical System (EOS) in 1987, named after the goddess of the dawn. Canon EOS 650 autofocus SLR camera is introduced. Also in 1987, the Canon Foundation was established. In 1988, Canon introduced ‘Kyosei philosophy’. The EOS 1 Flagship Professional SLR line was launched in 1989. In the same year the EOS RT, the world’s first AF SLR with a fixed, semi-transparent pellicle mirror, was unveiled
In 1992, Canon launched the Canon EOS 5, the first-ever camera with eye-controlled AF, and the PowerShot 600, its first digital camera. In 1995, Canon introduced the first commercially available SLR lens with internal image stabilization, Canon EF 75-300mm lens f/4-5.6 IS USM. Canon EOS-RS was the world’s fastest AF SLR camera with a continuous shooting speed of 10 frames at the time. Based on the EOS-1N, the EOS-1N RS has a fixed, semi-transparent pellicle mirror with a hard coat. In 1996, Canon introduced a pocket-sized digital camera with the Advanced Photo System, named ELPH in America and IXUS in Europe.
The current Canon website.