The Root of Canon.
Canon is a diversified company, with operations encompassing image and information processing as well as communication products. It all started with just one product called 'Kwanon'. The Kwanon was Japan's first 35mm focal plane shutter camera and featured a lens named ìKasyapaî. Here is the story about how the Kwanon came to be developed and how it got its name. The Kwanon was first advertised in the June 1934 issue of Asahi Camera, which even today remains one of Japan's top photography magazines. The ad copy read: "The 'I' class submarine. The '92-Type' airplane. The Kwanon camera. All world leaders!î
The Kwanon - pre-Hanza Canon. Click here for a bigger view.(Another interesting article of a Nikkor lens produced to fit on a Canon))
Japan developed several variants of the 'I' class submarine in the 1920s. The '92-Type' referred to the Japanese Imperial Army's air-cooled warplane. Both the vessel and plane were trumpeted in Japan as symbols of the state-of-the-art weaponry. So Canon's advertisement linked Japan's first 35mm camera with
top examples of the nation's technology prowess. At that time, Japan's camera industry was outclassed technologically by Germany's world-leading precision instruments. Japanese manufacturers were only just learning how to imitate such cameras as the Leica and Contax, so their products remained relatively primitive. Of course, there was no competition in terms of price. The Leica was well beyond the reach of the masses. For example, the starting salary at a bank for a university graduate was 70 Japanese yen per month. The top locally made model, the Pearl spring camera, cost 49 yen. A D-model Leica with a 50mm f/3.5 lens was priced at 420 Japanese yen.
This gap prompted Canon to develop inexpensive, high-quality cameras that would equal the best in the world. To help achieve this goal, Canon first established a precision engineering research laboratory. Using the technology available, it was extremely difficult to approximate the sophistication and quality of the Leica and Contax. Intensive efforts using the German cameras as models helped Canon researchers accumulate valuable ideas that led to the Kwanon as the nation's first 35mm focal plane camera, equipped with a range finder. Back in 1934, Canon researchers seemed to see religious significance in their achievement. Hence, the name 'Kwanon' refers to Canon, the Buddhistic Goddess of Mercy. And the Kasyapa lens is named after Mahakashapa, a disciple of Buddha and the guru of a religious sect.
Even though I am a Malaysian Chinese, a buddhist as well, but on functionality and practicality, I am happy Canon never stick to this, if not, we would have huge and odd interchangeable finder to accommodate the logo. Canon would never have been accepted by the Christian majority in the western world.. It made good business sense to change the logo.
The following year, the company decided to highlight its objective of modern, high-quality cameras by dropping the 'Kwanon' spelling in favor of 'Canon', which means precision in Latin.
Today, the company boasts an array of proprietary technologies that have led to many successful products, from the EOS series of autofocus 35mm SLRs to the compacts. Since the very first Kwanon, Canon has made more than 90 million cameras for professional and amateur photographers. The six decades since the release of the Kwanon have fueled wide diversification into image and information related fields for Canon now. The diversification was first embodied in the Kwanon. The Kwanon, is thus the origin of what Canon is today.
Perhaps this changes a lot of things around the photographic community with the Red logo up there... I am taking taking some of my free time to construct a Canon Pictorial History site for its cameras as well. At least, can calm some guys who said I am being biased for not taking care of other camera users of other makes - you know very well, I am not. I am just hoping to "stimulate" your interest into the medium of photography.
Canon: F Series: Canon F-1(1971), Canon OD F-1, Canon F-1 High Speed Motor Drive Camera (1972), Canon F1(n) Montreal Olympic (1976), Canon F1n Lake Placid (1980), Canon New Canon F-1 (1982), New Canon F-1 High Speed Motor Drive camera (1984); Canon New F-1 US Navy Model
Check out a highly informative local Canon Site !
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A pictorial history of: Nikon, Hasselblad, Rollei.
Credit: Information courtesy of Canon Marketing, Malaysia.