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Biographies: A Brief History of the Japanese Computer Industry Before 1985

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129927D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 7 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Sigeru Takahashi: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In July 1956 my colleagues and I completed the development of the ETL Mark 3, the first transistor computer in Japan, at the Electronics Division (Head, Hiroshi Wada) of the government's Electrotechnical Laboratory. In November 1957 we completed the ETL Mark 4, Mark 3's improved version [2]. Between 1958 and 1959 Japan's early commercial computer manufacturers completed their prototypes, either following the design of the ETL Mark 4 or using the parametron technology invented at the University of Tokyo [1]. Assuming that the Japanese computer industry was born then, we can say it is already a quarter of century old. The Institute of Electronic and Communication Engineers of Japan asked me to briefly describe the development of computers during this quarter of the century. Since the Institute permitted me to freely express my personal view regarding the subject matter, I have willingly accepted this task.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Biographies: A Brief History of the Japanese Computer Industry Before 1985

by

Sigeru Takahashi

Prologue

The late Hidetosi Takahasi (1) gave the history of computing in Japan before 1965, specifically detailing those computers which used parametron technology. In 1986 Annals published my article describing early transistor computers developed by the Japanese government's Electrotechnical Laboratory [2] up to the early 1960s. In 1985 I wrote a brief article, in Japanese, "Japanese Computers Now being A Quarter of Century old," [3] for the Journal of the Institute of Electronic and Communication Engineers of Japan covering activities relative to the Japanese computer industry rather than academia before 1985. The major effort of computer development in Japan, as in the U.S. and Europe, had shifted from academic community to industry by the early 1960s.

The following is a free translation of that 1985 article.

Japanese Computers are a Quarter of Century Old

1. Introduction

In July 1956 my colleagues and I completed the development of the ETL Mark 3, the first transistor computer in Japan, at the Electronics Division (Head, Hiroshi Wada) of the government's Electrotechnical Laboratory. In November 1957 we completed the ETL Mark 4, Mark 3's improved version [2].

Between 1958 and 1959 Japan's early commercial computer manufacturers completed their prototypes, either following the design of the ETL Mark 4 or using the parametron technology invented at the University of Tokyo [1]. Assuming that the Japanese computer industry was born then, we can say it is already a quarter of century old.

The Institute of Electronic and Communication Engineers of Japan asked me to briefly describe the development of computers during this quarter of the century. Since the Institute permitted me to freely express my personal view regarding the subject matter, I have willingly accepted this task.

As of 1985, the Japanese computer industry is technologically independent. Also it appears reasonably prosperous. Before telling its history, however, I must point out that it reached this stage after coming through the following three rather difficult stages.

IEEE Computer Society, Apr 30, 1996 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 18 Number 1, Pages 76-79

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Biographies: A Brief History of the Japanese Computer Industry Before 1985

-- The first stage, in which the industry relied mostly on technologies from universities and government laboratories. -- The second stage, in which the industry relied mostly on the technical aids from U.S. companies. -- The third stage, in which the industry relied mostly on MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry), a part of the Japanese government. In the following I will describe each of these three stages.

2.Th...