Brief History of Canon Cameras
Goro Yoshida and his brother-in-law, Sabura
Uchida, founded the Precision Optical Instruments
Laboratory. The goal: to make cameras to compete
with the most advanced German models of the day.
Japan's first domestically-made 35mm focal-plane
shutter camera, the "Kwanon' -- named
after the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy.
"Canon" trademark registered.
Hansa Canon cameras offered for sale at
half the price of a Leica.
The Canonet introduces EE camera.
1 millionth Canonet shipped.
The Demi EE 17 follows in the footsteps
of the Demi, Color Demi, Demi S, Demi C, and Demi
Rapid, all half-frame (i.e. 24x17 mm instead of
24x36 mm film area) cameras introduced to compete
with Eastman Kodak's Instamatic cameras. This
is the first "serious" camera that got
me interested in photography. It was so easy and
intuitive to use and it worked well. Of course,
back then, most pictures were B&W and we learned
to develop and print our own pictures. The bathroom
substituted for a darkroom and many a night, my
father banged on the door wondering when I would
be finished and out of there so the family could
take their showers.
Canon, inc. established.
Canon F-1 debuts. The rivalry between Nikon and
Canon starts as to which camera, the Nikon F2
or the Canon F1, is the best professional SLR
camera. Both had their fans and both developed
their own system of lenses and equipments. While
Nikon cemented its hold on photo reporters, Canon
concentrated on wild life photographers.
In April 1976, Canon introduced the first microcomputer
embedded camera, the Canon AE-1. The Automatic
Exposure Control in the AE-1 meant that beginner
and amateur photographers could now take good
pictures with a SLR at an affordable price [Editor's
note: Sounds familiar?]. The AE-1 proved to be
so successful that Canon effectively captured
the amateur photographer's market segment and
has continued to do so to this time. The first
time I knew that Canon had started to win this
market is when I saw my college friend who knew
nothing about photography buy one to take with
him to University. From then on, many beginner
photographers kept asking me if -- no, kept telling
me that -- Canon was a good brand to buy.
Canon introduces a fully automatic auto-focus
compact camera, the AF35M. Even back then,
Canon engineers were thinking of how to make photography
easier for the masses. This has proved to be an
enormously successful strategy, tapping into a
new market segment heretofore ignored by other
camera manufacturers which were more attuned to
pleasing the advanced amateur and professional
The EOS650, an auto-focus SLR camera, debuts,
signalling a major shift in Canon's SLR startegy
toward incorporating leading-edge technology into
its SLR cameras. Instead of constantly competing
with other SLR cameras in features, Canon sought
to lead the pack by stepping out into unknown
territory, exploring future technologies and incorporating
them into its SLR cameras.
The EOS-1 debuts. When I first saw the EOS-1 I
was stunned! Canon had dared to redesign the conventional
rectangular body by giving it curves. Except that
the Canon designer did it with taste and originality.
Since then, others have tried to give their cameras
more rounded shapes but I think they don't quite
succeed as well as Canon does with its EOS models.
The EOS5 is introduced as the world's first camera
with eye-controlled auto-focus.
The Rebel models hit the market, again signalling
a trend toward satisfying the mass market.
The EOS-1N becomes Canon's flagship SLR camera.
Canon unveils the world's first zoom lens with
image stabilization features.
Canon enters the digital camera era with the EOS
The SURESHOT DEL SOL is the world's first fully
The ELPH model is born, ushering a new era of
good compact camera design. The ELPH models support
the new Advanced Photo System which was developed
jointly by five companies: Canon, Eastman Kodak,
Fuji Photo Film, Minolta, and Nikon. APS allows
smaller cameras to be designed and totally eliminates
The Elph Jr. is ultra-light and ultra-thin
which allows it to easily fit into the front pocket
of a jeans. When I was looking for a camera small
enough to take anywhere, I found the Elph Jr.
I can carry it in my pocket all day and have it
always ready for a snapshot. The Elph Jr. is the
inspiration behind the Photoxels JeansPocket
The EOS-3 with 45-point area AF.
The PowerShot digital models are introduced.
The EOS D30 digital SLR camera features a 3 Megapixels
The EOS-1D digital SLR camera is introduced.
The EOS-1DS digital SLR camera features a 11.1
Megapixels CMOS sensor that is full-frame, permitting
the use of any Canon EF lens.
has successfully competed with the best camera
manufacturers by incorporating leading-edge technologies
into its cameras, targeting the whole range from
beginner to professional photographers, and introducing
good design that effectively made cameras fashionable.
you have any anecdote about any of the above cameras
that you think might be interesting to share with
other readers, please send
them to us.
info about Canon cameras with a pellicle mirror
can be found here: http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/eos/eoscamera/EOS-RT/
Editor (Dec 31, 2005)
Canon cameras with a pellicle mirror are:] the
EOS RT, basically an EOS 600 with a pellicle mirror,
and the EOS1n RS, a variant of the EOS1n HS with
a fixed motor drive.
Phil Taylor (Dec 31, 2005)
you might be interested in one of Canon's great
achievements not listed in your article. In 1966,
I bought a Canon Pellix, the first (and only,
to my knowledge) 35mm to use a half silvered,
pellical mirror that did not flip up to make the
exposure. The stationary mirror reduced vibration
but allowed superb picture quality. Unfortunately,
it was teamed with a 50mm lens which had aperture
blades that stuck after a few years of use because
of poor lubrication. I think they discontinued
the design because the mirror was so fragile,
but it's design was revolutionary at the time.
Joseph Walsh (Feb 21, 2003)