A History of Value Creation at Canon

Since its founding in 1937, Canon has grown by moving with the times, refining its enterprising spirit and proprietary technology, while also seeking to create new value to satisfy the expectations of customers and society.
Outlined below is a history of innovation at Canon, from its venture start-up origins to today.

1930s–40s Aiming to develop the world's best cameras

Major events with global social and economic impact

1929 Great Depression
1939–1945 World War II
1947 Start of the Cold War

Business development landmarks

1933 Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory established to pursue development of high-quality, domestically produced cameras
1937 Precision Optical Industry, Co., Ltd. established

Development of products with social value


Introduction of Hansa Canon, Japan's first domestic 35-mm focal-plane-shutter camera.
Model makes significant impact on the Japanese camera industry and contributed to post-war camera development

Hansa Canon


Development of first indirect X-ray camera made in Japan for early detection of TB (leading cause of death at that time)

indirect X-ray camera

1950s–60s Promoting globalization and diversification

Major events with global social and economic impact

1955–1973 Economic boom in Japan
1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
1965 Start of the Vietnam War
1967 Creation of European Communities (EC)

Business development landmarks


Branch office opened in New York

Branch office opened in New York

1957 Canon Europa set up in Switzerland as sole European distributor
1965 Canon U.S.A., Inc. established
1967 “Cameras in the Right Hand, Business Machines in the Left” used as 30th anniversary slogan to promote diversification
1968 Canon Amsterdam N.V. (now Canon Europa N.V.) established

Development of products with social value


Launch of Canonet, a low-priced model with internal automatic exposure mechanism, achieves record sales. Sparks the “electric-eye” camera boom enabling anyone to enjoy photography



Launch of Canola 130, the world's first 10-key electronic calculator, marks Canon's entry into business machines. The 10-key format goes on to become the de facto standard

Canola 130

1968 Canon enters the plain-paper copier (PPC) market with the introduction of the Canon NP System, a proprietary electro-photography technology that achieves high sensitivity and long service life. In 1970, Canon launches the NP-1100, Japan's first domestically produced PPC

1970s–80s Promoting diversification, second inauguration of company

Major events with global social and economic impact

1973 Oil Crisis
1979 Second Oil Crisis
1985 Plaza Accord, prompting a sharp yen appreciation
1986–1991 Japanese asset price bubble
1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident
1987 World stock market crash (Black Monday)

Business development landmarks

1970 Canon Inc., Taiwan established as first overseas manufacturing facility
1972 Physotec GmbH (now Canon Giessen GmbH) set up in Germany as first manufacturing site in Europe
1988 In 51st year of operations, second inauguration of company announced, corporate philosophy of Kyosei established

Development of products with social value


Launch of the AE-1, the world's first SLR camera featuring a built-in microcomputer. Offering full automation for flawless photographs and a low price anticipating the post-oil crisis slump, the AE-1 is a global hit


1978 Launch of PLA-500FA, the world's first mask aligner with a laser-based automatic alignment system, five-inch wafer capability in advance of the trend towards larger wafers, and automatic substrate feed-in mechanism contribute to gains in semiconductor manufacturing productivity

Introduction of the PC-10/PC-20, the world's first personal copying machines featuring replaceable cartridges. Introduction of cartridge system realizes easy maintenance and miniaturization that enables copiers to be used at home, contributing to expansion of copier market



LBP-8 launched as the world's smallest, lightest laser printer. Contributes to the realization of desktop publishing



Launch of BJ-80, world's first inkjet printer using high quality, fast, and quiet, Bubble Jet technology


1987 Introduction of EOS autofocus SLR cameras with interchangeable EF lenses using a fully electronic mount. Contribute significantly to the spread of SLR cameras Introduction of CLC-1, the world's first full-color digital copying machine, marking the start of the high-resolution, full-color copy era

1990s Pursuing business reforms and globalization

Major events with global social and economic impact

1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall
Tiananmen Square incident
1991 Gulf War
1992 UNCED, or Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake
Launch of Windows 95
Creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
1997 Asian financial crisis
Adoption of the Kyoto Protocol
1999 EU currency unification (introduction of the euro)

Business development landmarks

1990 Toner cartridge recycling launched in US as first part of global roll-out
1993 Canon Group Environmental Charter formulated with clear stance on the environment based on Kyosei philosophy
1996 Excellent Global Corporation Plan (medium-term business plan) initiated, reformed awareness of new management vision emphasizing “total optimization” and “profitability” and commitment to cash flow management
1997 Canon (China) Co., Ltd. established
1998 Copying machine remanufacturing operations started in Japan, three-region (Japan/US/Europe) system for remanufacturing established

Development of products with social value

1993 Launch of the EOS REBEL XS (EOS 500 in other regions) SLR camera as the world's smallest, lightest camera with internal strobe. Model becomes a major hit, expanding SLR user base

Launch of ELPH (IXUS in other regions), the world's smallest zoom compact camera with Advanced Photo System (APS). Such features as an innovative, high-grade design lead to it becoming an instant global hit


2000s Stepping up digitization of products

Major events with global social and economic impact

2001 9/11 attacks
2007 Launch of iPhone
2008 Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers

Business development landmarks


Canon Inc. began listing ADRs on the New York Stock Exchange

Canon Inc. began listing ADRs on the New York Stock Exchange

2004 Igari Mold (now Canon Mold) made wholly owned subsidiary, enhanced technical capability in mold making and in-house manufacturing promoted
2005 ANELVA Corp. (now Canon ANELVA) made consolidated subsidiary. Contributed significantly to inhouse production of production machinery based on vacuum thin-film deposition technology
NEC Machinery Corp. (now Canon Machinery) made consolidated subsidiary. Contributed to realization of automated manufacturing at Canon through design and production of automation equipment
2007 Tokki (now Canon Tokki) made consolidated subsidiary. Contributed to spread of devices using OLED displays through advanced technologies for OLED panel manufacturing equipment

Development of products with social value

2000 Launch of PowerShot S100 DIGITAL ELPH (DIGITAL IXUS in other regions) in response to adoption of digital technology in the development of IT. Digital compact camera market grows exponentially
Launch of iR series of next-generation network MFDs with document collation/distribution functions in response to trend toward office digitization and networking

Launch of imagePRESS C7000VP, anticipating growing demand for high-mix, low-volume printing. Full-scale entry into commercial digital printer market

imagePRESS C7000VP

2010s Facing new growth challenges

Major events with global social and economic impact

2011 Great East Japan Earthquake
2015 Adoption of SDGs by UN
Adoption of the Paris Agreement
2016 The U.K. votes to withdraw from the European Union

Business development landmarks

2010 Commercial printing business expanded with addition of Océ (Netherlands; now Canon Production Printing) as consolidated subsidiary
2014 Nanoimprint lithography manufacturing equipment development accelerated as Molecular Imprints, Inc. (US; now Canon Nanotechnologies) made wholly owned subsidiary
Presence in video management software sector strengthened with addition of Milestone Systems (Denmark) as wholly owned subsidiary of Canon Europe
2015 Presence in network cameras for surveillance strengthened as Axis Communications (Sweden) made consolidated subsidiary
2016 Phase V of Excellent Global Corporation Plan initiated
Strategy based on basic policy of “embracing the challenge of new growth via a grand strategic transformation” promoted
Toshiba Medical Systems (now Canon Medical Systems) made wholly owned subsidiary to strengthen medical business
2018 Stronger presence in video analytics software sector realized as BriefCam (Israel) made wholly owned subsidiary

Development of products with social value


Entry into motion picture production industry with announcement of Cinema EOS System of cinema cameras and lenses. Gains strong reputation among professional filmmakers


2016 Launch of third-generation A3 color MFD imageRUNNER ADVANCE C5500 series. Contributes to increased efficiency in office operations

Launch of ProStream 1000 continuous feed inkjet press targets rising demand for digital printing in graphic arts market
Launch of Aquilion Precision high-precision CT system. Offers new clinical value through high-resolution imaging



Launch of EOS R System, a new digital imaging system, delivering greater image quality and ease-of-use, and release of the EOS R mirrorless camera and RF lenses

EOS R System