Grasping the bangs of the goddess

Kenjiro Takayanagi eventually became the father of television technology. He said later that, as he was pursuing his research and was engaged in developing technology that would serve society ten to twenty years in the future, he occasionally had a mental image of the goddess of fortune, and always saw her portrayed as a beautiful woman with full bangs, but no hair at the back of her head. Playing with this idea, Takayanagi imagined that, in order to grasp the goddess of fortune, one would have to be one step ahead of her, wait for her to catch up, and then turn around and grasp her by the bangs. Applying this whimsical fancy to his work, Takayanagi resolved to always be one step ahead and have the technology ready when the opportunity to apply it came within reach. Hamamatsu Photonics carries on this spirit today, constantly striving to be ready and waiting when opportunity arises.


Where our name came from

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.


Left : Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi
Professor Kenjiro Takayanagi (1899 -1990) was born in Hamamatsu, and after graduating from a teachers' college, became an assistant instructor at Hamamatsu Industrial High School (now the School of Engineering of Shizuoka University). At that time, he was engaged in television research. Heihachiro Horiuchi, the founder of Hamamatsu Photonics, was at that time a student in Professor Takayanagi's seminar, and became fascinated by the professor's television technology, absorbing his passion for the realm of the unexplored.

Right : In 1926, Professor Takayanagi's research team succeeded in producing a Japanese character on the world's first electronic television screen. (The photograph shows a device reproducing the character in the Hamamatsu Science Museum.)


On the advent of the era of light

A single Japanese character paves the way to the television age. (1926)

It has been 88 years since Kenjiro Takayanagi first succeeded in displaying a Japanese character on a television screen. In that time, such remarkable advances have been made in photonics technology that this period in history is being called the "century of light". Hamamatsu Photonics has kept pace with the advances of photonics technology.


Since our founding as the “Tokai Electronic Laboratory” in 1948, and the start of the “Hamamatsu TV Co., Ltd.” (former name of Hamamatsu Photonics) in 1953, we have surmounted various troubles and succeeded in developing the photomultiplier tube. This section introduces you to what could be called our corporate growth period in the 1950s.


Our measurement technology which is said to be “more advanced than NASA” gave us the opportunity to participate in space research projects. Here we also introduce you to our expansion and development period in the 1960s where we also ventured into the yet unknown field of fabricating medical equipment by way of the Iriscorder (pupil response analysis system).


We put our expertise in electron tube development and manufacture to work in developing silicon photodiodes which later became a main-line product of our Solid State Division. Manufacturing TV cameras for computers which was then a new frontier turned out to be the cornerstone for the founding of our Systems Division. This section introduces you to 1970s at Hamamatsu Photonics, which could be called the “preparation time for the big leap” period.


Here we introduce you to the 1980s which was the beginning of “Photonics Age.” In this period, we reorganized ourselves into corporate divisions, changed the company name to “Hamamatsu Photonics K. K.” and established new sales offices domestically and abroad, and extended and relocated our factories in a continual growth process.


Here is an overview of our activity in the 1990s which was the historical start of our efforts to contribute to human society through photonics technology. At this time we built our “Central Research Laboratory” that serves as our operations center for basic and applied research in a variety of fields including communication and information processing, measurement, biotechnology, medical care, energy, space science, and physics.


Here we introduce you to the decade 2000 where Hamamatsu Photonics started to actively steer towards “pioneering the next age.” At this time we held our exhibition named “Photon Fair” and also established the “Graduate School for the Creation Of New Photonics Industries” as part of our work to “use photonics technology to create new industries.” In 2002, Masatoshi Koshiba, professor emeritus of University of Tokyo, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. This historical achievement which allowed us to contribute by supplying photomultiplier tubes marked a huge milestone not only for everyone at Hamamatsu Photonics but also for society as a whole.


In this decade, Hamamatsu strives to improve its position as a global supplier. European headquarters and a Chinese sales subsidiary are established as part of this effort.

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