1950s

  Corporate history and product development
1948
  • Tokai Electronics Laboratory (original company of Hamamatsu Photonics) established.

The "G5E" phototube manufactured during the time of Tokai Electronics. (1950)

1949  
1950  
1951  
1952  
1953
  • Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd. (former name) established with capital of 500,000 yen.
  • Production of phototubes began
1954  
1955
  • Capital increased to 1 million yen.
  • Carried out funded research project "Pilot research into gamma-ray scintillators (Ca-OW)" under the Science and Technology Agency's "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy" program.
1956
  • Capital increased to 2 million yen.
  • Trial production of photomultiplier tubes began and image pickup tubes were put on the market.
  • Obtained a grant for "Pilot research into photomultiplier tubes" under the Science and Technology Agency's "Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy" program.

Selenium photocathode vidicons (1956)

1957
  • Night-vision tube production was succeeded.
1958
  • CdS cells were put on the market.

Our first CdS Cell: the P101

1959
  • Capital increased to 4 million yen.
  • Mass production of CdS cells began and side-on type photomultiplier tubes were put on the market.

 

 

Where our name came from

1955: The Ebitsuka Factory

Originally, our firm was called "Hamamatsu TV". The name came about because Heihachiro Horiuchi, who was the founder of the firm, was a student of Kenjiro Takayanagi and later took over his professor's spirit and technology, establishing the coupling of opto-technology and industry as the doctrine behind the founding of the company and the business goal of the firm. Because of that connection with his former professor, Horiuchi wanted a name that would make people think of Dr. Takayanagi. The name Takayanagi was largely synonymous with the concept of "television" at that time, so he named the firm Hamamatsu TV. The name was often mistaken for a television station, and up-and-coming television personalities would visit the company in search of interviews, or requests would come in for repair of household televisions.

 

A part-time worker made unaided efforts

Assembly and modulation of undewwater cameras.

Hamamatsu TV became involved in television applications in the field of science and industry when we were asked by Professor Nobuyuki Kawamoto of Mie University to make an underwater camera for observing fish reefs. This camera was produced by Fumio Yokozawa, former auditor, who worked part-time at the company and was planning to join as a regular employee the following spring. Despite being unable to obtain sufficient parts and measuring instruments, he put in many long, lonely hours over a four-month period before completing the first television camera in the history of Hamamatsu Photonics – a camera created entirely by a part-time worker.

 

Seizing the opportunity

Less than two years after the company was first established, when we were still a small-scale operation on the level of a backstreet factory, we were given government funding to conduct what was, for us, an epochal research project. At the time, Japan was in the early stages of developing atomic power, and we were working hard to produce our own technology and equipment domestically. Hamamatsu TV applied to conduct trial testing of a scintillator (a type of fluorophor that is a transparent crystal which lights up in response to incident x-rays) that is used to measure radiation. The other companies that had applied were all fairly eminent corporations, so we were concerned about whether our topic would be approved, but we passed the test with ease. Having the funds to cover the research costs, something we would have had a hard time scraping out of our own budget, provided us with a very positive opportunity.

 

Golden days

A leader at the time in CdS cell manufacturing

Up until that point, Hamamatsu TV had always been involved in electron tube products such as phototubes. Our first foray into semiconductor products was the CdS cell. Sakio Suzuki, who was in charge of development, succeeded in developing the product after repeated trials and errors which he carried out on his own, enveloped in a cloud of cadmium sulfide powder. One day at the end of 1958, an order came in for 1,000 CdS cells per month for use in adjusting the brightness of television cathode ray tubes. As a company that had up until that time been producing multiple products in small lots, it was our first experience with mass production, and we had to mobilize all of our employees on the production side to get the order filled. The development of the CdS cell ended up bringing about many positive outcomes, among them an accumulation of semiconductor technology and a new sense of unity in-house, after all of the employees had worked together day and night on the production effort.

 

"We'll call Hamamatsu TV the 'king'"

Our first photomultiplier tube: the 931A

Among light detecting devices, photomultiplier tubes have particularly outstanding characteristics. By the beginning of 1955, we had the capability to produce chemical analyzers using photomultiplier tubes, and at the same time domestic demand was growing. Around that time, one of our customers said to us, "If Hamamatsu TV could produce photomultiplier tubes, we would call you the 'king' of the industry." That made our engineers realize the necessity for development of these tubes, and provided the motivation for them to undertake the project. The photomultiplier tube that they developed through many trials and tribulations was far superior to those of other companies, and that product was what gave us a solid footing as an opto-technology company.


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