The first product on offer by Casio Watches was distinctly low tech compared to the watches of today. The founder, Tadao Kashio was an engineer specialising in fabrication techniques. His first line was a ring that enabled the wearer to smoke a cigarette whilst keeping their hands free for other purposes. Justfog q16
The product catered to a condition of the Japanese economy at the time. Immediately after the Second World War and under American occupation, Japan lay in ruins. Consequently, poverty was being felt everywhere. The ring allowed smokers to inhale right to the nub of the cigarette effectively making the cigarette smokeable when it would otherwise burn the fingers. This adaption to the marketplace would not be the only innovation made by the company listening to its customers’ needs.
The growing business invested the profits in creating the first electromechanical adding machine to be built in Japan. Its major innovation was using a 10 number keypad as used on modern PC’s. By 1957, they had developed an all-electronic system removing the gears and mechanical parts completely. It began exporting these desktop calculators outside of Japan for the first time in the autumn of 1966. It issued its first personal calculator in 1972.
Those products have remained popular with generations of accountants, schoolchildren and scientists ever since, but the biggest change in the company, at least as far horologists are concerned came with the release of the Casiotron Electronic Wristwatch in November 1974.
It may seem a bit of a stretch to move from calculators to Casio Watches, but at its heart a quartz watch effectively is a counting machine that runs a calculation of how many beats of the quartz crystal make one minute. Casio watches were moderately successful, but the 1980’s saw the company unveil two designs that would become synonymous with the company, the G-Shock and the telephone number databank. Whilst mobile phones have largely removed the need for a telephone databank, the G-shock remains a classic of design.
The G-Shock watches were based on the idea that the watch should survive being dropped from the top of a tall building. It initially proved unpopular, but as fashions changed the new watches grew a new base of fans. It shock resistant build meant that it was ideally suited to use by people in professions where a more delicate timepieces might be easily damaged.