Olympus Zuikodo Technology Museum
Olympus Zuikodo Technology Museum
On exhibit at the museum are several generations of products for medical, scientific, and photographic applications based on opto-digital technology, which is the fusion of optical technology and state-of-the-art digital technology. In this article, we present the continuous advancement of Olympus products and technologies.
Most microscopes in this decade were manufactured by Germany. Olympus founder Takeshi Yamashita founded Takachiho Seisakusho in 1919 with the dream of someday producing Japanese-manufactured microscopes. The company manufactured its first microscope, under the name "Asahi", the next year. In 1928, the name "SEIKA-GE" received the outstanding domestic product award, the highest award given by the Tokyo Exhibition for the Promotion of Domestically Made Products. "SEIKA-GE" was also honored to present one of its products to Emperor Showa. In 1932, Olympus received the highest honor when awarded first prize at the 4th Hatsumei Hakurankai Expo.
Olympus established in 1935 the Mizuho Optical Research Laboratory to research lens for cameras. Leveraging the technology Olympus had developed for microscopes, the laboratory designed and manufactured the Zuiko lens. The Semi-Olympus I camera manufactured in 1936 was equipped with the Zuiko lens. Later, Olympus manufactured both the lens and body of a new model, the Semi-Olympus II.
In 1950, Olympus was the first company in the world to develop a practical gastrocamera. The first prototype was equipped with a photographic lens at the tip of a flexible tube. The small lamp at the tip was flashed on the hand-operated side to photograph the inside of the stomach. The 6-millimeter black and white film was wound up by pulling a wire. Later in 1952, the product was marketed under the name GT-1 Gastrocamera.
From the wish to develop a camera that would be accessible to a large number of general consumers, Olympus developed and began marketing the Olympus Pen--a compact, lightweight, low-priced camera--in 1959. It was called the Pen because it was convenient to carry anywhere and could be taken out easily whenever the user wanted to take a photograph. The Pen series was a megahit product that achieved cumulative sales of more than 17 million cameras.
To solve the problems inherent to its first gastrocamera, Olympus focused on a new material--glass fiber. The company was successful in utilizing the property of glass fiber to be able to transmit light from one end to the other to develop an endoscope by which the physician could directly view the inside of the stomach. In 1964, Olympus began sale of a gastrocamera with a fiberscope attached that allowed the physician to observe and take photographs of the inside of the stomach. It attracted much attention as a groundbreaking instrument that paved the way for more accurate diagnoses.
1970s and onward
In the 1970s, Olympus advanced systematization of the microscope. In the 1980s, Olympus developed a new optical system called the UIS (Universal Infinity System), which was based on the concept of an ideal microscope that could meet diversified microscopy needs.
With the launch of OM-1, Olympus completely changed the previous image of the single-lens reflex camera as being big, heavy, and with a loud shutter sound. At the time, it was much talked about as the world's smallest single-lens reflex camera.
1980s and onward
This decade saw the appearance of the videoscope (electronic scope), which is an endoscope with a built-in video camera that utilizes a CCD (charge-coupled device) image sensor. And in the 2000s, Olympus began sale of a capsule endoscope the size of a large pill that is swallowed to examine the small intestine.
2000 and onward
Olympus quickly entered the mirrorless digital camera market. The cameras are made to prevent dust from getting on the sensor when lenses are changed and they are equipped with a noise reduction system and built-in image stabilization. The camera is also equipped with Olympus' original technologies-- dual super aspherical lens and antireflective coating to minimize ghost images and lens flare.