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Casio Computer Co. Ltd

CASIO COMPUTER CO. LTD.

Casio Computer Co. Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is one of the world's leading developers of consumer electronic devices like calculators and watches. The firm also makes digital cameras, business organizers, and pagers. One of its most popular products, the Cassiopeia Pocket PC, is the leading handheld computer using the Windows CE platform. In the late 1990s, Casio began focusing on developing wireless Internet, personal computer, and telecommunications products.

EARLY HISTORY

In April of 1946, engineer Tadao Kashio and his three younger brothers began developing a fully electric calculator. More than a decade later, in June of 1957, the Kashio brothers began selling the 14-A all-electric compact calculator. They incorporated their company under the name Casio Computer Co. Ltd. In 1965, the firm introduced the 001, one of the world's first desktop calculators with memory functions. Although they were becoming smaller in size, calculators were still beyond the financial reach of most consumers, so Casio began working on a more affordable device. In August of 1972, the company unveiled the first personal calculator, the Casio Mini. By that time, the firm's factory in Kofu had begun to mass-produce electronic calculators, and was the first Japanese plant to do so. The firm also had expanded internationally by marketing its products in the United States and Germany.

Using similar digital technology, Casio turned its attention to watches in the early 1970s. As a result, the world's first electronic wristwatch, the Casiotron, was developed in November of 1974. It was able to digitally display not only time, but also date. International expansion continued in 1975 when the firm launched operations in London. Casio Taiwan Ltd. was established three years later. An electronic cash register came in 1976, followed by a wristwatch with a liquid crystal display (LCD) in 1978, an office computer in 1979, and an electronic music synthesizer, known as Casiotone 201, in 1980. Three years later, Casio introduced pocket LCD televisions and calculators the size of credit cards. With increased competition undercutting prices, and thus profits, Casio devoted more resources to research and development efforts in 1985. The following year, the firm unveiled an office computer based on Unix. North American operations were bolstered with a new office in Canada. Units also opened in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Tokyo in 1987, and a new series of automated data-processing machines were shipped. By the end of the 1980s, Casio was the world's largest calculator manufacturer in terms of market share, and calculators accounted for roughly 42 percent of revenues.

In the early 1990s Casio sought to expand existing markets by developing new technology, which allowed for further diversification within those markets. For example, the company began expanding its reach in musical markets by creating sound devices for use in live performances. It also developed a digital piano with a CD player. In 1991, the firm founded Casio Electronic Devices to begin marketing its component products, including miniaturized electronic circuitry and LCDs. Casio also purchased a majority stake in Asahi Corp., a communications equipment and electrical appliances manufacturer. Additional product releases at that time included printers, word processors, and a lightweight LCD television.

FOCUS ON WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS

Casio was a fairly early player in the personal communications services (PCS) market. In March of 1994, the firm shipped its first paging device, which offered alphanumeric messaging capabilities. A year later, it introduced the Casio PhoneMate LT-70 video telephone and an FM teletext receiver. Casio became the world's first mass producer of digital cameras in 1995 when it shipped the QV-10 digital camera with an LCD monitor. In 1996, Casio unveiled the Cassiopeia, a Windows CE-based handheld computer system with 2MB of RAM, audio capabilities, and limited versions of popular word processing, spreadsheet and scheduling programs. The Cassiopeia also boasted e-mail capabilities via Microsoft Exchange and was able to accommodate wireless data transfer.

Casio entered the U.S. pager market in 1997 after announcing an intent to increase its focus on telecommunications products. The following year, the firm established Casio Soft Inc. to develop and market additional Windows CE applications for its U.S. customers. In January of 2000, America Online and Casio agreed to develop software that would allow AOL subscribers to use their Cassiopeia handheld computer for checking, sending, and receiving e-mail. According to a January 2000 Business Wire article, the deal was part of Casio's attempt to "target the mobile needs that arise for personal computers, the Internet, and the rapid growth of mobile telecommunications markets." In keeping with this strategy, the firm worked with FotoNation Inc. to develop a digital camera from which users could upload pictures directly to the Zing.com Web site.

It was at this time that Casio began seriously targeting the corporate sector with its Pocket PC. In June of 2000, Casio and Sybase Inc.'s iAnywhere Solutions unit forged a joint venture to make mobile e-business products and market them on a global scale. Specifically, Casio began using the SQL Anywhere Studioalong with mobile integration and database technologyon its corporate Pocket PCs. Early in 2001, to set its product apart from competitors like Palm and address security concerns about giving corporate intranet access to wireless devices, the firm connected its Cassiopeia E-707 Pocket PC to a packet communications service that only allows authorized users to access corporate networks.

FURTHER READING:

"Casio Aims for Corporate Niche with Wireless Handheld." Bloomberg News. December 12, 2000. Available from news.cnet.com/news.

"Casio and American Online Announce Agreement to Deliver AOL E-Mail Via Casio's Pocket PCs." Business Wire. January 6, 2000.

Casio Computer Co. Ltd. "Company Information." Tokyo: Casio Computer Co. Ltd., 2001. Available from world.casio.com.

"Casio Computer Co. Ltd." In Notable Corporate Chronologies. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 1999.

"Casio & Sybase Inc. to Provide Mobile E-Business Solutions." Software Industry Report. June 19, 2000.

"Casio, Zing.com and FotoNation to Announce the First Internet Camera End-to-End Solution." Business Wire. January 6, 2000.

SEE ALSO: Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

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