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A brief history of Canon Cameras

Canon are one of the biggest manufacturers of digital cameras and camera accessories in the world, and as such Old Timer Cameras (OTC) provide thousands of Canon camera instruction manuals a year to satisfied customers, but it got us thinking recently about what we actually know about the history of the company.

After doing some careful research we have put together this short biopic about Canon the company and its history, and hope you find it as fascinating as we did.

Canon cameras first started out in 1933 when Goro Yoshida disassembled a Leica camera in an attempt to develop a high grade 35mm focal shutter rangefinder camera. The reason for this is the Leica camera was far too expensive in price for mass appeal, so Yoshida was looking for a way to be able to produce a camera that was affordable and accessible to all.

Along with his brother in law, Suburo Uchida and later Takeo Maeda, he established the Precision Optical Instruments laboratory in an apartment in Tokyo. It is reported that Yoshida managed to produce several prototypes of a high-grade 35mm rangefinder camera, although none are believed to exist today.

In June 1934 they released their first camera to the Japanese market and called it the ‘Kwanon’, after the Buddhist goddess of mercy, due to the deeply held religious significance the Japanese felt about the development of this new camera.

The following a year a trademark was filed and the name was changed to Canon as it was thought this would give it a more modern sounding image, as well as it being Latin for the word ‘precision’.

In August 1937 the Precision Optical Industry, Inc was formed, which is what many consider to be the birth of Canon as a company, even though it wasn’t until 10 years later that the name was officially changed to Canon Camera Co, Inc.

Canon has since then been at the forefront of Japanese industry, being given priority to export products by the Japanese Government after WW2, when sanctions were lifted. They have worked in collaboration with many leading companies to develop new technologies, which has allowed them to grow from strength to strength and become a true global leader.

Many camera lovers will know the Canon name well, and their products speak for themselves, from that very first prototype 35mm rangefinder, to the modern digital SLR cameras and the well respected and popular EOS and Powershot ranges.

>Lesser known Canon products include medical, optical and broadcast products, including ophthalmic and x-ray devices, broadcast lenses, semiconductors, digital microfilm scanners, and Handy Terminal Solutions.

As Canon last year celebrated their 50th anniversary in the European marketplace, it is hoped that they will continue producing the high quality and affordable cameras we associate them with and you can be sure that as they do, OTC will be providing the camera instruction manuals to go with them.