This is a list of Japanese inventions. The Japanese contributed to a number of fields. In particular, the country has played a crucial role in the digital revolution since the 20th century, with many revolutionary and widespread technologies in fields such as electronics and robotics introduced by Japanese companies and entrepreneurs. Japanese popular culture, strongly shaped by its electronic technologies, also has considerable global influence.

Film and animation[edit | edit source]

3D computer graphics software
The earliest known example of 3D computer graphics software for personal computers is 3D Art Graphics, a set of 3D computer graphics effects, written by Kazumasa Mitazawa and released in June 1978 for the Apple II home computer.[1][2]
Mecha and Super Robot
The mecha genre of science fiction was founded in Japan. The first depiction of mecha Super Robots being piloted by a user from within a cockpit was introduced in the manga and anime series Mazinger Z by Go Nagai in 1972.[3]
Postcyberpunk animation/film
The first postcyberpunk media work in an animated/film format was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in 2002. It has been called "the most interesting, sustained postcyberpunk media work in existence."[4]
Real robot
Real robot is a genre of anime.[5][6][7] Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) is largely considered the first series to introduce the real-robot idea and, along with The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982), would form the basis of what people would later call real-robot anime.[8]
Real-time 3D ray tracing
The first implementation of a real-time 3D ray-tracer was the LINKS-1 Computer Graphics System, built in 1982 at Osaka University's School of Engineering, by professors Ohmura Kouichi, Shirakawa Isao and Kawata Toru with 50 students. It was a massively parallel processing computer system with 514 microprocessors, used for rendering realistic 3D computer graphics with high-speed ray tracing. According to the Information Processing Society of Japan: "By developing a new software methodology specifically for high-speed image rendering, LINKS-1 was able to rapidly render highly realistic images." It was "used to create the world's first 3D planetarium-like video of the entire heavens that was made completely with computer graphics. The video was presented at the Fujitsu pavilion at the 1985 International Exposition in Tsukuba."[9]

Games[edit | edit source]

Sports[edit | edit source]

Radio-controlled touring car
In 1991, Tamiya mounted a 1/10 scale Nissan Skyline GT-R (a Group A racer) body to a modified off-road buggy chassis[10] which was credited for the resurgence of the R/C car market in the mid-1990s.[11][12]

Video games[edit | edit source]

Action role-playing game (action RPG)
Japanese developers created the action RPG subgenre in the early 1980s, combining RPG elements with arcade-style action and action-adventure elements.[13][14] In 1983, Nihon Falcom released Panorama Toh, coming close to the action RPG formula that they later became known for.[15] The trend of combining RPG elements with arcade-style action mechanics was popularized by The Tower of Druaga,[14] an arcade game released by Namco in 1984.[16] Its success inspired the development of three early action RPGs, combining Druaga's real-time hack-and-slash gameplay with stronger RPG mechanics, all released in late 1984: Dragon Slayer, Courageous Perseus, and Hydlide.[17]
Active Time Battle
Hiroyuki Ito introduced the "Active Time Battle" system in Final Fantasy IV (1991),[18] where the time-keeping system does not stop.[19] Square Co., Ltd. filed a United States patent application for the ATB system on March 16, 1992, under the title "Video game apparatus, method and device for controlling same" and was awarded the patent on February 21, 1995. On the battle screen, each character has an ATB meter that gradually fills, and the player is allowed to issue a command to that character once the meter is full.[20] The fact that enemies can attack or be attacked at any time is credited with injecting urgency and excitement into the combat system.[19]
Color video game
The first color video game was the 1973 arcade game Playtron, developed by Japanese company Kasco, which only manufactured two cabinets of the game.[21]
Fighting game
Sega's black and white boxing game Heavyweight Champ was released in 1976 as the first video game to feature fist fighting.[22] However, Data East's Karate Champ from 1984 is credited with establishing and popularizing the one-on-one fighting game genre, and went on to influence Konami's Yie Ar Kung-Fu from 1985.[23] Yie Ar Kung Fu expanded on Karate Champ by pitting the player against a variety of opponents, each with a unique appearance and fighting style.[23][24] Capcom's Street Fighter (1987) introduced the use of special moves that could only be discovered by experimenting with the game controls. Street Fighter II (1991) established the conventions of the fighting game genre and, whereas previous games allowed players to combat computer-controlled fighters, Street Fighter II allowed players to play against each other.[25]
Human sprites
The first video game to represent player characters as human sprite images was Taito's Basketball, which was licensed in February 1974 to Midway, releasing it as TV Basketball in North America.[26][27]
Open world action RPG
The action role-playing game Hydlide (1984) was an early open world game,[28][16] rewarding exploration in an open world environment.[29] Hylide influenced The Legend of Zelda (1986),[17] an influential open world game.[30][31] Zelda had an expansive, coherent open world design, inspiring many games to adopt a similar open world design.[32]
Open world adventure game
The 1983 first-person adventure game, The Portopia Serial Murder Case, featured a non-linear open world,[33][34] which is considered ahead of its time.[34]
Psychological horror game
Silent Hill (1999) was praised for moving away survival horror games from B movie horror elements to the psychological style seen in art house or Japanese horror films,[35] due to the game's emphasis on a disturbing atmosphere rather than visceral horror.[36] The original Silent Hill is considered one of the scariest games of all time,[37] and the strong narrative from Silent Hill 2 in 2001 has made the series one of the most influential in the genre.[38] Fatal Frame from 2001 was a unique entry into the genre, as the player explores a mansion and takes photographs of ghosts in order to defeat them.[39][40]
Real-time strategy
Bokosuka Wars (1983) is considered to be an early prototype real-time strategy game.[41] TechnoSoft's Herzog (1988) is regarded as a precursor to the real-time strategy genre, being the predecessor to Herzog Zwei and somewhat similar in nature.[42] Herzog Zwei, released for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis home console in 1989, is the earliest example of a game with a feature set that falls under the contemporary definition of modern real-time strategy.[43][44]
Tomohiro Nishikado's 1974 arcade racing game Speed Race introduced scrolling graphics, where the sprites moved along a vertical scrolling overhead track.[45]
Scrolling platformer
The first platform game to use scrolling graphics was Jump Bug (1981), a simple platform-shooter developed by Alpha Denshi.[46] In August 1982, Taito released Jungle King,[47] which featured scrolling jump and run sequences that had players hopping over obstacles. Namco took the scrolling platformer a step further with the 1984 release Pac-Land. Pac-Land came after the genre had a few years to develop, and was an evolution of earlier platform games, aspiring to be more than a simple game of hurdle jumping, like some of its predecessors.[48] It closely resembled later scrolling platformers like Wonder Boy and Super Mario Bros and was probably a direct influence on them. It also had multi-layered parallax scrolling.[49][50]
Stealth game
The first stealth-based video games were Hiroshi Suzuki's Manbiki Shounen (1979),[51][52][53] Taito's Lupin III (1980),[54] and Sega's 005 (1981).[55][56][57] The first commercially successful stealth game was Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear (1987), the first in the Metal Gear series. It was followed by Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990) which significantly expanded the genre, and then Metal Gear Solid (1998).
Survival horror
The survival horror video game genre began with Capcom's Resident Evil (1996), which coined the term "survival horror" and defined the genre.[58][59] The game was inspired by Capcom's earlier horror game Sweet Home (1989).[60] The earliest game to retroactively be described as survival horror is Nostromo, a sci-fi survival horror game developed by Tokyo University student Akira Takiguchi for the PET 2001, with a PC-6001 port published in 1981.[61]
Tactical role-playing game (tactical RPG)
One of the earliest Japanese RPGs, Koei's The Dragon and Princess (1982),[62] featured a tactical turn-based combat system.[63][64] Koji Sumii's Bokosuka Wars (1983) is credited for laying the foundations for the tactical RPG genre, or "simulation RPG" genre as it is known in Japan, with its blend of basic RPG and strategy game elements.[65] The genre became with the game that set the template for tactical RPGs, Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi (1990).[66]

Sciences[edit | edit source]

Mathematics[edit | edit source]

Two-valued Boolean algebra
In the 1930s, while studying switching circuits, NEC engineer Akira Nakashima independently discovered Boolean algebra, which he was unaware of until 1938. In a series of papers published from 1934 to 1936, he formulated a two-valued Boolean algebra as a way to analyze and design circuits by algebraic means in terms of logic gates.[67][68]

Physics[edit | edit source]

Bottom quark
The bottom quark is a product in almost all top quark decays, and is a frequent decay product for the Higgs boson. The bottom quark was theorized in 1973 by physicists Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa to explain CP violation.[69]
Cabibbo–Kobayashi–Maskawa matrix
Toshihide Maskawa and Makoto Kobayashi's 1973 article, "CP Violation in the Renormalizable Theory of Weak Interaction",[70] is the fourth most cited high energy physics paper of all time as of 2010.[71] The Cabibbo–Kobayashi–Maskawa matrix, which defines the mixing parameters between quarks, was the result of this work. Kobayashi and Maskawa were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature."[72]
Cosmic neutrino, solar neutrino, neutrino astronomy
Masatoshi Koshiba was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, in particular for the detection of cosmic neutrinos"[73] in the 1980s. He conducted pioneering work on solar neutrino detection, and Koshiba's work also resulted in the first real-time observation of neutrinos from the SN 1987A supernova. These efforts marked the beginning of neutrino astronomy.[74]
Electron tunneling (quantum tunnelling)
Leo Esaki was awarded the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics[75] for the discovery of electron tunneling in the 1950s.[76]
Explicit symmetry breaking
Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the origin of the explicit breaking of CP symmetry in the weak interactions. They were awarded "for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature".[77]
Quantum electrodynamics
Shin'ichirō Tomonaga was awarded the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics for his "fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles".[78]
Spontaneous symmetry breaking and chiral symmetry breaking
Yoichiro Nambu was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics for his 1960 discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics, related at first to the strong interaction's chiral symmetry and later to the electroweak interaction and Higgs mechanism.[79]

Technology[edit | edit source]

Japanese typewriter
The first typewriter to be based on the Japanese writing system was invented by Kyota Sugimoto in 1929.[80]
KS steel
Magnetic resistant steel that is three times more resistant than tungsten steel, invented by Kotaro Honda.[81]
LCD watch
Tetsuro Hama and Izuhiko Nishimura of Seiko received a US patent dated February 1971 for an electronic wristwatch incorporating a TN LCD display.[82] Sharp Corporation mass-produced TN LCD displays for watches in 1975.[83]
MKM steel
MKM steel, an alloy containing nickel and aluminum, was developed in 1931 by the Japanese metallurgist Tokuhichi Mishima.[84]
Neodymium magnet
Neodymium magnets were invented independently in 1982 by General Motors (GM) and Sumitomo Special Metals.[85] It is the most widely used type of rare-earth magnet.[86]
Ninja robot
Invented by Shigeo Hirose, it is capable of climbing buildings and a seven-ton robot capable of climbing mountainous slopes with the aim of installing bolts in the ground so as to prevent landslides.[87]
QR code
The QR code, a type of matrix barcode, was invented by Denso Wave in 1994.[88]
Telephony experiment
In 1876, two Japanese students, Shuji Izawa and Kentaro Kaneko, participated in Alexander Graham Bell's experiments with early telephony,[89] immediately after Bell invented the telephone.[90] According to Bell, this made Japanese the second language spoken through a telephone, after English.[90]

Audio technology[edit | edit source]

Bass synthesizer-sequencer
The first bass synthesizer with a music sequencer was the Firstman SQ-01.[91][92] It was originally released in 1980 by Hillwood/Firstman, a Japanese synthesizer company founded in 1972 by Kazuo Morioka (who later worked for Akai in the early 1980s), and was then released by Multivox for North America in 1981.[93][94][95] The first influential bass synthesizer was the Roland TB-303, released in 1981, later becoming the basis of acid house music.[96]
Commercial digital recording
Commercial digital recording was pioneered in Japan by NHK and Nippon Columbia, also known as Denon, in the 1960s. The first commercial digital recordings were released in 1971.[97]
Compact Disc Digital Audio (CD-DA)
Also called Red Book, CD-DA was the compact disc audio format introduced in 1980 by Sony and Philips.[98]
Compact disc player
Sony released the world's first CD Player, called the CDP-101,[99] in 1982, utilising a slide-out tray design for the Compact Disc.
CV/Gate music sequencer
In 1977, Roland Corporation released the MC-8 Microcomposer, also called computer music composer by Roland. It was the first standalone, microprocessor-based, digital CV/Gate sequencer.[100][101][102]
Digital-analog drum machine
While the Roland TR-808 was fully analog synthesis-based, the Roland TR-909, released in 1983, combined analogue synthesis with digital sampling.[103] Much like the TR-808's importance to hip hop music, the TR-909 holds a similar important for electronic dance music, such as techno and house music.[104][105]
Digital Control Bus (DCB) and DIN sync
In 1980, Roland introduced the Digital Control Bus (DCB) communications protocol, using the DIN sync interface to synchronize different electronic musical instruments. It was introduced with the Roland TR-808 in 1980, considered groundbreaking at the time, followed by other Roland equipment in 1981. It was the precursor to MIDI, which adopted most of its features from the DCB protocol, including the same type of connectors as the DIN sync interface.[106][107]
Digital delay pedal
Boss Corporation's DD-2 Digital Delay, released in 1983, was the world's first digital delay effects unit in stomp box form. It uses a custom integrated circuit (IC) chip that was originally developed for Roland Corporation's SDE-3000 rack delay unit. It was succeeded by the DD-3 Digital Delay in 1986.[108]
Digital reverb effects pedal
Boss Corporation's RV-2 Digital Reverb, released in 1987, the world’s first digital reverb pedal. It used a new custom DSP processor developed by Boss, originally for the RRV-10 Digital Reverb in the Micro Rack series.[108]
Digital synthesizer
Yamaha built the first prototype digital synthesizer in 1974.[109] Released in 1979,[110] the Casio VL-1 was the first commercial digital synthesizer,[111] selling for $69.95.[110] The mainstream breakthrough for digital synthesis came with the 1983 release of the Yamaha DX7,[112] one of the best-selling synthesizers of all time.[113][114]
Direct-drive turntable
Invented by Shuichi Obata, an engineer at Matsushita (now Panasonic),[115] based in Osaka, Japan.[116] It eliminated the belts of older belt-drive turntables, and instead employed a motor to directly drive a platter on which a vinyl record rests.[117] In 1969, Matsushita released it as the SP-10,[117] the first direct-drive turntable on the market,[118] and the first in their Technics series of turntables.[117] This gave rise to turntablism, with the most influential turntable being the Technics SL-1200, released in 1972 and remaining the most widely used turntable in DJ culture for the next several decades.[117][119]
Electronic drum
At NAMM 1964, Japanese company Ace Tone revealed the R-1 Rhythm Ace, the first fully transistorized electronic drum instrument. Created by Ikutaro Kakehashi, who later founded Roland Corporation, the R-1 was a hand-operated percussion device that played electronic drum sounds manually as the user pushed buttons, in a similar fashion to modern electronic drum pads.[100][120][121]
Electronic drum machine
Nippon Columbia received a 1965 patent for an electronic automatic rhythm machine instrument. It described it as an "automatic rhythm player which is simple but capable of electronically producing various rhythms in the characteristic tones of a drum, a piccolo and so on."[122] At around the same time, Korg also introduced transistor circuitry for their Donca-Matic DC-11 electronic drum machine, some time between 1963 and 1966.[123]
Electrostatic reed organ
Yamaha engineer Mr. Yamashita invented the Yamaha Magna Organ in 1935. It was an electrostatic reed organ, a multi-timbral keyboard instrument based on electrically blown free reeds with pickups.[124][125]
Frequency modulation synthesis (FM synthesis)
In 1973,[109] the Japanese company Yamaha licensed the algorithms for frequency modulation synthesis (FM synthesis) from John Chowning, who had experimented with it at Stanford University since 1971.[114] Yamaha's engineers began adapting Chowning's algorithm for use in a commercial digital synthesizer, adding improvements such as the "key scaling" method to avoid the introduction of distortion that normally occurred in analog systems during frequency modulation.[126] In the 1970s, Yamaha were granted a number of patents, under the company's former name "Nippon Gakki Seizo Kabushiki Kaisha", evolving Chowning's early work on FM synthesis technology.[127] The first commercial FM digital synthesizer was the Yamaha GS-1 in 1980.[128]
The Roland MC-202, released in 1983, was the first groovebox. The term "groovebox" was later coined by Roland Corporation in reference to its successor, the Roland MC-303, released in 1996.[129]
Microprocessor programmable drum machine
In 1978, Roland released the Roland CR-78, the first microprocessor programmable rhythm machine,[100][130] with four memory banks to store user patterns,[121] and controls for accents and muting.[130] The Roland TR-808, released in 1980, was the first drum machine with the ability to program an entire percussion track of a song from beginning to end, complete with breaks and rolls.[131] It also includes volume knobs for each voice,[106] and has bass drum decay controls that could lengthen the sound to create uniquely low frequencies which flatten over long periods,[132] which can be used to create basslines[133] or bass drops.[134] The TR-808 became one of the most influential inventions in popular music,[135][133] used on more hit records than any other drum machine,[136] and shaping genres such as dance, electronic, hip hop and pop music.[137]
Linear Arithmetic synthesis (LA synthesis)
A type of sound synthesis invented by Roland Corporation, introduced with the Roland D-50 synthesizer in 1987.[138]:434 In 1987, Roland also introduced LA synthesis to the sound card computer music market, with the Roland MT-32 sound module.[139]
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
In 1981, Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi proposed the concept of standardization to Oberheim Electronics and Sequential Circuits, and they then discussed it with Yamaha, Korg and Kawai.[140] A common MIDI standard was developed, working with Roland's pre-existing DCB as a basis,[106] by Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Kawai, and Sequential Circuits.[140][141]:20 MIDI was publicly announced in 1982.[142]:276 MIDI allowed communication between different instruments and general-purpose computers to play a role in music production.[102] Since its introduction, MIDI has remained the musical instrument industry standard interface through to the present day.[143] Kakehashi received the 2013 Technical Grammy Award for the invention of MIDI.[144][145]
MIDI drum machine
The first MIDI drum machine was the Roland TR-909, released in 1983.[146][147]
MIDI music sequencer
The first MIDI sequencer was Roland Corporation's MSQ-700, released in 1983.[148]
MIDI synthesizer
The first MIDI synthesizers were the Roland Jupiter-6 and the Prophet 600, both released in 1982.[146][147]
PCM recorder
In 1967, the first PCM (pulse-code modulation) recorder was developed by NHK's research facilities in Japan.[97]
PCM sampler
The first PCM digital sampler was Toshiba's LMD-649,[149] created in 1981 by engineer Kenji Murata for Japanese electronic music band Yellow Magic Orchestra, who used it for extensive sampling and looping in their 1981 album Technodelic.[150]
Phaser effects pedal
The Uni-Vibe, also known as Jax Vibra-Chorus,[151] is a footpedal-operated phaser or phase shifter for creating chorus and vibrato simulations for electric organ or guitar. Designed by audio engineer Fumio Mieda,[152] it was introduced in the 1960s by Japanese company Shin-ei, and then released in North America by Univox in 1968.[151] The pedals soon became favorite effects pedals of rock guitarists Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower.[153]
Polyphonic synthesizer
In 1973, Yamaha invented an early multi-voice polyphonic synthesizer, the Yamaha GX-1.[154]
Polyphonic string synthesizer
Roland invented an early polyphonic string synthesizer, the Roland RS-202, in 1975. It was followed by the Roland RS-202 in 1976.[155][95]
Portable CD player
Sony's Discman, released in 1984, was the first portable CD player.[156]
Programmable drum machine
Korg's Stageman and Mini Pops series, introduced in 1967, were notable for "natural metallic percussion" sounds and incorporating controls for drum "breaks and fill-ins."[157] Prior to Ikutaro Kakehashi's founding of Roland Corporation in 1972, Kakehashi had discussed the idea of a programmable drum machine while at Ace Tone, some time between 1967 and 1972.[158] In 1975,[159] Ace Tone released the Rhythm Producer FR-15 that enables the modification of the pre-programmed rhythm patterns.[160]
Stereo PCM
In 1969, NHK expanded PCM's capabilities to 2-channel stereo and 32 kHz 13-bit resolution. In January 1971, using NHK'S PCM recording system, engineers at Denon recorded the first commercial digital recordings, including Uzu: The World Of Stomu Yamash'ta 2 by Stomu Yamashta.[97]
Touch-sensitive electronic keyboard
In 1974, Roland Corporation released the EP-30, the first touch-sensitive electronic keyboard.[161]
Vowel–consonant synthesis
A type of hybrid digital-analog synthesis developed by Casio and first employed by the early Casiotone keyboards in the early 1980s.[162]
The prototype was built in 1978 by audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka. Ibuka wanted to be able to listen to operas during his frequent trans-Pacific plane trips, and presented the idea to Kihara.[163]

Calculators[edit | edit source]

The concept of a single-chip calculator was conceived by Sharp engineer Tadashi Sasaki in 1968.[164] The first single-chip calculator to be built was Busicom's LE-120A HANDY, released in February 1971.[165]
Electric calculator
The world's first all-electric compact calculator was the Casio Computer Company's Model 14-A, released in 1957.[166][167][168]
Electronic desktop calculator with on-board memory
Casio 001, released in 1965.[167]
LCD calculator
In 1973, Sharp Corporation introduced the use of LCD displays for calculators.[83]
LSI calculator
The Sharp QT-8D, an electronic desktop calculator released in 1969, was the first calculator to have its logic circuitry entirely implemented with LSI (large-scale integration) integrated circuits (ICs) based on MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology.[169][170][171]
Microprocessor calculator
The Busicom 141-PF, released in March 1971, was the first calculator, and first device in general, to use a microprocessor, the 4-bit Intel 4004.[172][173]
Programmable calculator
In 1967, Casio released the AL-1000, the world's first programmable desktop calculator.[167][174]
The soroban is an abacus calculator developed in medieval Japan. It is derived from the ancient Chinese suanpan, imported to Japan in the 14th century.[175]

Cameras[edit | edit source]

Digital single-lens reflex camera
On August 25, 1981 Sony unveiled a prototype of the first still video camera, the Sony Mavica. This camera was an analog electronic camera that featured interchangeable lenses and a SLR viewfinder. At photokina in 1986, Nikon revealed a prototype analog electronic still SLR camera, the Nikon SVC, the first digital SLR. The prototype body shared many features with the N8008.[176]
In 1967, Sony unveiled the first self-contained video tape analog recording system that was portable.[177]

Computing[edit | edit source]

12-bit microprocessor
In 1973, Toshiba developed the TLCS-12,[178][179] the world's first 12-bit microprocessor.[180] The project began in 1971, when Toshiba began developing a microprocessor for Ford Motor Company's Electronic Engine Control (EEC) project, which went on to utilize Toshiba's 12-bit microprocessor.[180]
16-bit microcomputer
In 1977, Panafacom, a conglomeration of Fujitsu, Fuji Electric, and Matsushita, released an early 16-bit microcomputer, the Lkit-16, based on the 16-bit Panafacom MN1610 microprocessor developed in 1975.[181]

Panafacom MN1610, 16-bit microprocessor (1975)

16-bit microprocessor
In 1975, Panafacom developed the first commercial 16-bit single-chip microprocessor CPU,[182] the MN1610.[181][183] According to Fujitsu, it was "the world's first 16-bit microcomputer on a single chip".[182]
Compact office computer
Compact office computers originated from Japan in the early 1960s. While American offices at the time ran large minicomputers loaded with business applications, Japanese manufacturers invented highly compact office computers, with hardware, operating systems, peripheral devices and application development languages specifically developed for business applications, playing a big role in Japan's booming economy. The first office computers released in 1961: Casio's TUC Compuwriter, NEC's NEAC-1201 parametron computer, and Unoke Denshi Kogyo's USAC-3010.[184]
File:HD6417095 01.jpg

Hitachi SH-2, 32-bit microprocessor with compressed instructions (1993)

Compressed instructions
In the early 1990s, engineers at Hitachi found ways to compress RISC instruction sets so they fit in even smaller memory systems than CISC instruction sets. They developed a compressed instruction set for their SuperH series of microprocessors, introduced in 1992.[185] The SuperH instruction set was later adapted for the ARM architecture's Thumb instruction set.[186]
Digital system design, and digital computer theory
In the 1930s, NEC engineer Akira Nakashima laid the foundations for digital system design with his switching circuit theory, where formulated a two-valued Boolean algebra as a way to analyze and design circuits by algebraic means in terms of logic gates. His switching circuit theory provided the mathematical foundations and tools for digital system design in almost all areas of modern technology, and was the basis for digital computer theory.[68][187]
Electronic printer
The first electronic printer was the EP-101, invented by Japanese company Epson and released in 1968.[188][189]

Yamaha programming computer for GS-1, the first commercial FM digital synthesizer (1980)

FM synthesis computer music
The Yamaha GS-1, the first commercial FM digital synthesizer, released in 1980, was programmed using a proprietary Yamaha computer, which at the time was only available at Yamaha's headquarters in Japan (Hamamatsu) and the United States (Buena Park).[190] In 1983, Yamaha modules introduced FM synthesis to the MSX personal computer.[191][192]

NEC TK-80 microcomputer kit (1976) on the left, Busicom calculator motherboard based on Intel 4004 (1971) in the center, and assembled Busicom calculator on the right

General-purpose microcomputer
The first microcomputers based on the Intel 8080, the first general-purpose microprocessor, were Sord Computer Corporation's SMP80/x series,[193] released in 1974.[193][194]
General-purpose microprocessor
The Intel 8080, released in 1974, was the first general-purpose microprocessor.[193] The 8-bit Intel 8080 was designed by Federico Faggin and Masatoshi Shima.[195]
Inkjet printer
The world's first inkjet printer was Casio's Typuter, released in 1971.[167]

Epson HX-20 laptop (1981)

Yukio Yokozawa, an employee for Suwa Seikosha, a branch of Seiko (now Seiko Epson), invented the first laptop/notebook computer in July 1980, receiving a patent for the invention.[196] Seiko's notebook computer, known as the HC-20 in Japan, was announced in 1981.[197] In North America, Epson introduced it as the Epson HX-20 in 1981, at the COMDEX computer show in Las Vegas, where it drew significant attention for its portability.[198] It had a mass-market release in July 1982, as the HC-20 in Japan[197] and as the Epson HX-20 in North America.[199] It was the first notebook-sized handheld computer,[200][197][199] the size of an A4 notebook and weighing 1.6 kg (Bad rounding hereScript error: No such module "Math". lb).[197] In 1983, the Sharp PC-5000[201] and Ampere WS-1 laptops from Japan featured a modern clamshell design.[202][203]
The first microcomputer was Sord Computer Corporation's SMP80/08,[194] developed in 1972, using the 8-bit Intel 8008 microprocessor.[193]
Microcomputer operating system
The first microcomputer with an operating system was Sord Computer Corporation's SMP80/x series,[204] released in 1974, based on the Intel 8080 microprocessor.[193][194]

Intel 4004 (1971), 4-bit microprocessor designed by Busicom's Masatoshi Shima

The concept of a single-chip microprocessor central processing unit (CPU) was conceived in a 1968 meeting in Japan between Sharp engineer Tadashi Sasaki and a software engineering researcher from Nara Women's College. Sasaki discussed the microprocessor concept with Busicom and Intel in 1968.[164] The first commercial microprocessor, the 4-bit Intel 4004, began with the "Busicom Project"[205] in 1968 as Masatoshi Shima's three-chip CPU design,[173][205] which was simplified down to a single-chip microprocessor, designed from 1969 to 1970 by Intel's Marcian Hoff and Federico Faggin and Busicom's Masatoshi Shima, and commercially released in 1971.[205][172]
MIDI computer music
In 1982, the NEC PC-88 and PC-98 computers introduced MIDI support.[206] In 1983, Yamaha modules introduced MIDI sequencing to the MSX.[191][192]
MIDI music software
In 1983, the Yamaha CX5 MSX computer and Yamaha MSX modules came with graphical music software for digital synthesis and MIDI sequencing,[207][192] capable of synthesizing and sequencing sounds and rhythms.[208] It provided synthesis, composition tools, and a 4-track MIDI sequencer, available on different cartridges.[209]
File:Roland MPU-401.jpg

Roland Corporation's MPU-401 MIDI interface (1984)

MIDI sound card
The spread of MIDI on computers was facilitated by Roland Corporation's MPU-401, released in 1984. It was the first MIDI-equipped PC sound card, capable of MIDI sound processing[210] and sequencing.[211][212] After Roland sold MPU sound chips to other sound card manufacturers,[210] it established a universal standard MIDI-to-PC interface.[213] The widespread adoption of MIDI led to computer-based MIDI software being developed.[102]
Music Macro Language
In 1978, Japanese personal computers such as the Sharp MZ and Hitachi Basic Master were capable of digital synthesis, which were sequenced using Music Macro Language (MML).[214] This was used to produce chiptune video game music.[206]
Optical communication
Hardware elements providing the basis of internet technology, the three essential elements of optical communication, were invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa: the semiconductor laser (1957) being the light source, the graded-index optical fiber (1964) as the transmission line, and the PIN photodiode (1950) as the optical receiver.[215] Fiber-optic communication was proposed by Nishizawa in 1963.[216] Izuo Hayashi's invention of the continuous wave semiconductor laser in 1970 led directly to the light sources in fiber-optic communication, commercialized by Japanese entrepreneurs,[217] and opened up the field of optical communication, playing an important role in the communication networks of the future.[218] Their work laid the foundations for the Information Age.[215]
A logic circuit element invented by Eiichi Goto in 1954.[219] It was a digital computer element.[68]
Personal computer with built-in floppy disk drive
Sord Computer Corporation's M200 Smart Home Computer, released in 1977, was among the first home computers, and was an early personal computer to be integrated with a built-in floppy disk drive.[220]
Personal computer with built-in hard disk drive
Sord Computer Corporation's M223 Mark VI, introduced in 1979, was an early personal computer to come standard with a built-in hard disk drive.[220]
Plastic central processing unit
Shunpei Yamazaki invented a central processing unit (CPU) made entirely from plastic.[221]
Small computer
In 1967, NEC introduced the NEAC-1240, the world's first small IC computer.[222]
Stored-program transistor computer
The ETL Mark III began development in 1954,[223] and was completed in 1956, created by the Electrotechnical Laboratory.[224] It was the first stored-program transistor computer.[224][225][226]
Switching circuit theory
From 1934 to 1936, NEC engineer Akira Nakashima introduced switching circuit theory in a series of papers showing that two-valued Boolean algebra, which he discovered independently, can describe the operation of switching circuits.[227][187][67][68]
Touchpad tablet
The first touchpad tablet was invented in 1971, by Hidekazu Terai and Kazuo Nakata at Hitachi's Central Research Laboratory. It used a data tablet as a touchpad, with Japanese writing character recognition, for use with a computer.[228] Touch-based tablet input later appeared in the Japanese electronic word processor industry in the 1970s.[229] In 1976, Sharp's Takeo Hara, Takeshi Kasufuchi and Ko Ozawa invented an electrode-based touch input device, using electrode technology,[230] which was improved by Sharp's Hisao Komori and Makoto Shigeta in 1977, using electro-optical technology.[231] Sharp commercially introduced it with its Shoin WD-3000 word processor, released in 1979. It had touch-based tablet input, with a touch-pen used for entry.[232][229] This touch-based interface soon appeared in most Japanese word processors released from 1980 to 1982. A reason for this was because of the complexity of the Japanese writing system, with touch-based entry allowing typists to type faster. As better Japanese input methods developed for keyboards in the early 1980s, however, the Japanese word processor industry soon reverted back to keyboard entry.[229]
Touchscreen tablet
In 1979, the first touchscreen tablet was invented by a Japanese team at Hitachi consisting of Masao Hotta, Yoshikazu Miyamoto, Norio Yokozawa, and Yoshimitsu Oshima, who received a US patent for their invention.[233]
Transistor computer microprogramming
The use of microprogramming in electronic transistor computers dates back to 1961, with the KT-Pilot, developed by Kyoto University and Toshiba in Japan.[226][234]
Two-chip microprocessor
NEC released the μPD707 and μPD708, a two-chip 4-bit microprocessor CPU, in 1971.[235] They were followed by NEC's first single-chip microprocessor, the μPD700, in April 1972,[236][237] a prototype for the μCOM-4 (μPD751), released in April 1973,[236] combining the μPD707 and μPD708 into a single microprocessor.[235]
A group of several companies began the development of USB in 1994, including Japanese company NEC.[238]

Display technology[edit | edit source]

Cathode ray tube (CRT)
In 1924, Kenjiro Takayanagi began a research program on electronic television. In 1925, he demonstrated a cathode ray tube (CRT) television with thermal electron emission.[239] In 1926, he demonstrated a CRT television with 40-line resolution,[240] the first working example of a fully electronic television receiver.[239] In 1927, he increased the television resolution to 100 lines, which was unrivaled until 1931.[241] In 1928, he was the first to transmit human faces in half-tones on television, influencing the later work of Vladimir K. Zworykin.[242]
Color LCD
The LCD color display was invented by Sharp Corporation's Shinji Kato and Takaaki Miyazaki in May 1975,[243] and then improved by Fumiaki Funada and Masataka Matsuura in December 1975.[244] The first LCD color televisions were invented as handheld televisions in Japan. In 1980, Hattori Seiko's R&D group began development on color pocket LCD televisions.[245] In 1984, Epson released the ET-10, the first full-color, pocket LCD television.[246]
Color LCD projector, and 3LCD
Epson developed the 3LCD color projection technology in the 1980s, and licensed it for use in projectors in 1988.[247] The first color LCD video projectors were Epson's 3LCD-based VPJ-700, released in January 1989,[199] and an LCD color video projector released by Sharp Corporation in 1989.[248] Epson's 3LCD technology went on to be adopted by about 40 different projector brands worldwide.[247]
Electronic television
In 1924, Kenjiro Takayanagi began a research program on electronic television. In 1925, he demonstrated a cathode ray tube (CRT) television with thermal electron emission.[239] In 1926, he demonstrated a CRT television with 40-line resolution,[240] the first working example of a fully electronic television receiver.[239] In 1927, he increased the television resolution to 100 lines, which was unrivaled until 1931.[249] In 1928, he was the first to transmit human faces in half-tones on television.[242]
Handheld projector
In January 1989, Epson released the first compact LCD projector, the VPJ-700.[199]
High definition television (HDTV), and digital television
Japan had the earliest working HDTV system, with design efforts going back to the 1970s. Japanese consumer electronics firms forged ahead with the development of HDTV technology, with the MUSE format proposed by NHK, a Japanese company. MUSE, the development of which began in the 1970s,[250] was a hybrid system with analog and digital features.[251] Until 1990, the Japanese MUSE standard was the front-runner among the more than 23 different technical concepts under consideration.
LCD large-screen television technology
Sharp Corporation invented the first large LCD displays in 1986, based on color TFT LCD technology.[252] In 1988, Sharp introduced the first commercial large LCD television, a 14" TFT LCD model with active matrix addressing. The release of Sharp's large LCD TV in 1988 led to Japan launching an LCD industry, which developed large-size LCD displays, including TFT computer monitors and LCD televisions.[253]
LCD watch
Tetsuro Hama and Izuhiko Nishimura of Seiko received a US patent dated February 1971 for an electronic wristwatch incorporating a TN LCD display.[254] Sharp Corporation mass-produced TN LCD displays for watches in 1975.[83]
Surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED)
A display technology for flat panel displays. Canon began SED research in 1986.[255]
LCD displays incorporating thin film and transistors were demonstrated in 1970 by J. Kishimoto from Canon[256] and Katsumi Yamamura from Suwa Seikosha (Seiko),[257] and further developed by Sharp Corporation in 1976.[258] In 1977, a TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD display was demonstrated by a Sharp team consisting of Kohei Kishi, Hirosaku Nonomura, Keiichiro Shimizu and Tomio Wada.[259] In 1980, Hattori Seiko's R&D group began development on color pocket LCD televisions, which led to the release of the first commercial TFT LCD displays by three of its subsidiaries.[245] One of its subsidiaries, Citizen Watch, introduced the Citizen Pocket TV, a color TFT LCD handheld television,[245][260] with a 2.7-inch display, in 1984.[260] By 1985, two other Seiko Hattori subsidiaries had also introduced TFT LCD handheld televisions, with Seiko's color micro-TV and the Epson ELF.[245]
Trinitron cathode ray tube (CRT) aperture grille television invented by Sony's Susumu Yoshida in 1968.[261]
Widescreen televisions date back to the 1970s, when Japan's NHK introduced the MUSE high-definition television system, which was soon backed by Sony and other Japanese television manufacturers.[250]

Electronics[edit | edit source]

Automated teller machine (ATM)
The idea of out-of-hours cash distribution developed from bankers' needs in Japan.[262][263][264] The Japanese device was called "Computer Loan Machine" and supplied cash as a three-month loan at 5% p.a. after inserting a credit card. The device was operational in 1966.[265][266]
Avalanche photodiode
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1952.[267]
BaTiO3 (barium titanate)
Invented by T. Ogawa in 1943.[261]
Blue laser
In 1992, Japanese inventor Shuji Nakamura invented the first efficient blue LED.[268] Nakamura invented it with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, for which the three of them were awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.[269]
Continuous wave semiconductor laser
Invented by Izuo Hayashi and Morton B. Panish in 1970. This led directly to the light sources in fiber-optic communication, laser printers, barcode readers, and optical disc drives, technologies that were commercialized by Japanese entrepreneurs.[217]:252
File:Early TV experiment by Takayanagi.jpg

A recreation of Kenjiro Takayanagi's pioneering 1926 electronic television experiment, at NHK Broadcasting Museum in Atagoyama, Tokyo

Electronic television
In 1924, Kenjiro Takayanagi began a research program on electronic television. In 1925, he demonstrated a cathode ray tube (CRT) television with thermal electron emission.[239] In 1926, he demonstrated a CRT television with 40-line resolution,[240] the first working example of a fully electronic television receiver.[239] In 1927, he increased the television resolution to 100 lines, which was unrivaled until 1931.[270] In 1928, he was the first to transmit human faces in half-tones on television.[242]
Fiber-optic communication
While working at at Tohoku University, Jun-ichi Nishizawa proposed the use of optical fibers for optical communication, in 1963.[216] Nishizawa invented other technologies that contributed to the development of optical fiber communications, such as the graded-index optical fiber as a channel for transmitting light from semiconductor lasers.[271][272] Izuo Hayashi's invention of the continuous wave semiconductor laser in 1970 led directly to light sources in fiber-optic communication, commercialized by Japanese entrepreneurs.[217]
Glass integrated circuit
Shunpei Yamazaki invented an integrated circuit made entirely from glass and with an 8-bit central processing unit.[221]
Graded-index optical fiber
Jun-ichi Nishizawa patented the graded-index optical fiber in 1964.[215]
Ion implantation
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1950.[273]

Layers of a PIN diode, invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1950

PIN diode/photodiode
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa and his colleagues in 1950.[274]
Semiconductor inductance
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1957.[273]
Semiconductor laser
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1957.[267][215]
Solid-state maser
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1955.[267]
Solid-state optical fiber
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1964.[273]
Static induction thyristor
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1971.[267][275]
Static induction transistor
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa and Y. Watanabe in 1950.[276]
Tunnel diode (Esaki diode)
It was invented in August 1957 by Leo Esaki, Yuriko Kurose and Takashi Suzuki when they were working at Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, now known as Sony.[277][278][279][280]
Tunnel injection
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1958.[273]
Varicap (variable capacitance diode)
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1959.[273]

Memory and storage technology[edit | edit source]

Blu-ray Disc
After Shuji Nakamura's invention of practical blue laser diodes,[281] Sony started two projects applying the new diodes: UDO (Ultra Density Optical) and DVR Blue (together with Pioneer), a format of rewritable discs which would eventually become the Blu-ray Disc.[282] The Blu-ray Disc Association was founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology alongside with nine companies: five from Japan, two from Korea, one from the Netherlands and one from France.
The CD-ROM format was developed by Japanese company Denon in 1982. It was an extension of Compact Disc Digital Audio, and adapted the format to hold any form of digital data, with a storage capacity of 553 MiB.[283] CD-ROM was then introduced by Denon and Sony at a Japanese computer show in 1984.[202]
Compact Disc (CD)
The compact disc was jointly developed by Philips (Joop Sinjou) and Sony (Toshitada Doi). Sony first publicly demonstrated an optical digital audio disc in September 1976. In September 1978, they demonstrated an optical digital audio disc with a 150 minute playing time, and with specifications of 44,056 Hz sampling rate, 16-bit linear resolution, cross-interleaved error correction code, that were similar to those of the Compact Disc they introduced in 1982.[284]
Digital video disc (DVD)
The DVD, first developed in 1995, resulted from a cooperation between three Japanese companies (Sony, Toshiba and Panasonic) and one Dutch company (Philips).
Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM)
The Toshiba Toscal BC-1411 electronic calculator, which debuted in 1965,[285][286] introduced an early form of DRAM built from discrete components.[286]
Floppy disk (magnetic disk)
The first floppy disk was invented by Yoshiro Nakamatsu at the Tokyo Imperial University in 1950.[287][288] He later received a Japanese patent in 1952,[289][290] and a 1958 American patent, for a magnetic disk record sheet.[291] Nippon Columbia planned to commercialized his magnetic disc sheet recorder in 1960.[292] He licensed a number of patents to IBM,[289][293][294] reaching licensing agreements with them in the 1970s.[287][295][296]
Glass hard disk drive platter
In 1990, Toshiba's MK1122FC was the first hard drive to use a glass hard disk drive platter, replacing the earlier aluminium platters. Glass platters had several advantages, such as greater shock resistance, compared to aluminium platter.[297]
Helical scan
Dr. Norikazu Sawazaki invented a prototype helical scan recorder in 1953.[298]
Holographic data storage
In 1975, Hitachi introduced a video disc system in which chrominance, luminance and sound information were encoded holographically. Each frame was recorded as a 1mm diameter hologram on a 305mm disc, while a laser beam read out the hologram from three angles.[299]
LaserDisc digital data storage
In 1984, Sony introduced a LaserDisc format that could store any form of digital data, as a data storage device similar to CD-ROM, with a larger capacity of 3.28 GiB.[202]
Micro floppy disk (3½-inch floppy disk)
Sony invented the 3½-inch floppy disk format, called the micro floppy disk. The first commercial micro floppy disk drive was the Sony OA-D30V, released in 1981.[300]
Perpendicular recording
Perpendicular recording was first demonstrated in the late 19th century by Danish scientist Valdemar Poulsen, who demonstrated that sound could be recorded magnetically. In 1976, Dr. Shun-ichi Iwasaki (president of the Tohoku Institute of Technology) recognized the distinct density advantages in perpendicular recording. In 1978, Dr. T. Fujiwara began an intensive research and development program at the Toshiba Corporation that eventually resulted in the perfection of floppy disk media optimized for perpendicular recording and the first magnetic digital data storage devices using the technique.[301]
Videocassette recorder
The first machines (the VP-1100 videocassette player and the VO-1700 videocassette recorder) to use the first videocassette format, U-matic, were introduced by Sony in 1971.[302]

Other[edit | edit source]

The first emoji was created in 1998 or 1999 in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita.[303]
The first imageboards were created in Japan. Later English language imageboards such as 4chan would be created.[304]
Textboards like imageboards were invented in Japan. However, unlike imageboards, textboards are relatively unknown outside of Japan.[304]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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