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Company History

Starting out — entering the business machine field

Ricoh’s origins date to a decision of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research to commercialize the fruits of its R&D by setting up Rikagaku Kogyo. In 1936, Rikagaku Kogyo established Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd. (renamed Riken Optical Co., Ltd., in 1938, and Ricoh Company, Ltd., in 1963), to manufacture and sell sensitized paper. The Company started its camera business in 1937. In 1950, it created Japan’s first mass production structure for cameras, driving their popularity among consumers. The company entered the business machine field in 1955 by launching the Ricopy 101.

Corporate Milestones
1936 - 1969
Product & Technology Milestones
Feb. 6, 1936

The sensitized paper division of Rikagaku Kogyo split off to be established as Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd. (–1938)

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Feb. 6, 1936
Corporate Milestones

The sensitized paper division of Rikagaku Kogyo split off to be established as Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd. (–1938)

Kiyoshi Ichimura
Kiyoshi Ichimura
Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in the earliest days (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo)
Institute of Physical and Chemical Research in the earliest days (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo)
Head office of Riken Optical Co., Ltd. renamed from Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd. (Ginza 8-chome, Tokyo; 1938)
Head office of Riken Optical Co., Ltd. renamed from Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd. (Ginza 8-chome, Tokyo; 1938)
Oji Plant, the main factory of Riken Optical for manufacturing sensitized paper as well as cameras and binoculars (1938)
Oji Plant, the main factory of Riken Optical for manufacturing sensitized paper as well as cameras and binoculars (1938)

Founder Kiyoshi Ichimura

Ricoh’s origins date back to a decision by the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research to commercialize the fruits of its R&D by setting up Rikagaku Kogyo. Since its formation in 1927, the business venture has placed on the market numerous products developed by the research institute, including sensitized paper. On February 6, 1936, the sensitized paper division was split off to be established as Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd., a precursor of Ricoh, under the directorship of Kiyoshi Ichimura (1900-1968). As the founder of Ricoh, Ichimura led the successful development of the business that started with 350,000 yen in capital and a staff of 33.

Kiyoshi Ichimura formulated The Spirit of Three Loves: “ Love your neighbor,” “ Love your country,” “Love your work,” and ever since, they have been respected as the Ricoh Group’s Founding Principles, which provide every employee with a guide for business and encourage individuals to constantly improve and contribute to the wellbeing of all stakeholders, including families, customers, and society at large.

The Birth of RICOH

Mar. 1938

Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd. renamed Riken Optical Co., Ltd. and starts production of optical devices and equipment.(until 1963)

Jan.12, 1946

Kiyoshi Ichimura appointed president (until Dec.16, 1968)

Mar. 1950

Launches the Ricohflex III camera, which spurred the popularization of cameras.

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Mar. 1950
Product & Technology Milestones

Launches the 6x6 format TLR Ricohflex Model III, which spurred the popularization of cameras in Japan

Ricohflex Model III (1950)
Ricohflex Model III (1950)
In 1953, Ricoh became Japan's first manufacturer to introduce a belt-conveyor production system. For its successful establishment of the mass production system, Ricoh was recognized by the Okochi Memorial Foundation with a production award.
In 1953, Ricoh became Japan's first manufacturer to introduce a belt-conveyor production system. For its successful establishment of the mass production system, Ricoh was recognized by the Okochi Memorial Foundation with a production award.
Ricoh was awarded the Okochi Memorial Production Prize for the successful establishment of a mass production system (1957)
Ricoh was awarded the Okochi Memorial Production Prize for the successful establishment of a mass production system (1957)

Ricoh was the first company in Japan to introduce a belt-conveyor system for manufacturing cameras, achieving a production capacity of 10,000 units/month—more than ten times the capacity of the then standard level of less than 1,000 units/month from the conventional handicraft industry. Successfully adopting this method of camera mass production, Ricoh offered the Ricohflex Model III at an affordable price, which was remarkably low for an iconic luxury item in those days. This model became highly popular among Japanese consumers, reportedly representing more than 50% of total national camera production during its sales peak.

Apr. 1953

Ohmori Plant opens in Ota-ku, Tokyo, through merger of affiliate companies Asahi Seimitsu Kogyo Co., Ltd. and Aiko Trading Co., Ltd.; camera manufacturing resumed.

Nov. 1955

Introduced Ricoh's first diazo copier, “Ricopy 101.“

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Nov. 1955
Product & Technology Milestones

Introduced Ricoh’s first diazo copier, Ricopy 101
—Included in the Mechanical Engineering Heritage list

The oldest existing Ricopy 101 model
The oldest existing Ricopy 101 model
Production line of Ricopy 303 and 505 models (1957)
Production line of Ricopy 303 and 505 models (1957)
Advertisement for Ricopy
Advertisement for Ricopy

In 1955, Ricoh launched its first office copier, the Ricopy 101. The product became widely popular in the late 1950s, sparking the coining of the term “make a Ricopy,” meaning to “make a copy” in Japan, a representation of the brand that came to be recognized as being synonymous with the concept of duplication. Ricopy 101 and the following desktop diazo-wet copier Ricopy series brought about a revolutionary improvement in office work efficiency, ushering in an age of office automation. The model received the Mechanical Engineering Heritage Certification No.54 for fiscal year 2012.

Related website:Ricopy 101: Forerunner of Office Automation

Jan. 1957

Establishes Japan's first mass-production system for cameras. Awarded Ohkochi Memorial Production Prize for techniques to mass-produce cameras.

Jul. 1960

Sindo Koeki Co., Ltd., a joint venture, founded in Korea (renamed Sindo Ricoh Co., Ltd. in 1970).

Aug. 1960

Introduces the “RICOH OFFSET“ duplicator, leading to low-cost high-volume copying in the office.

May 1961

Osaka Plant opens in Ikeda, Japan to manufacture sensitized paper.

Apr. 1962

Numazu Plant, Japan, formed. It features the world's first fully integrated production system of sensitized paper.

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Apr. 1962
Corporate Milestones

The Numazu Plant’s functions enhanced to establish an integrated production system for sensitized paper

Current Numazu Plant (South Plant)
Current Numazu Plant (South Plant)
Electrofax paper coating line (Numazu Plant)
Electrofax paper coating line (Numazu Plant)
Paper machine in Numazu Plant, completed in March, 1960
Paper machine in Numazu Plant, completed in March, 1960

A paper factory was completed in April 1960 in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Two years later, the plant was expanded by building facilities for manufacturing sensitized paper on the same premises, thereby establishing an integrated production system for sensitized paper that included the base paper manufacturing process—the first of its kind in the world.

May. 1962

Ohmori Plant and General Research Laboratory completed.

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May. 1962
Corporate Milestones

Ohmori Plant and General Research Laboratory completed

Completion of the Ohmori Plant (for manufacturing office machines) and the General Research Laboratory
Completion of the Ohmori Plant (for manufacturing office machines) and the General Research Laboratory
Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda at the opening reception with Ricoh president Kiyoshi Ichimura in May 17, 1962
Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda at the opening reception with Ricoh president Kiyoshi Ichimura in May 17, 1962

In May 1962, the Ohmori Plant (for manufacturing offce machines) and General Research Laboratory were completed on the premises where the head offce was located. They served as strong Ricoh bases to support expansion of its business areas of microphotography cameras, offset printers, data processing systems, and many others.

Nov. 1962

Introduces the “Ricoh Auto Half“, a half frame camera that proves to be a massive hit

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Nov. 1962
Product & Technology Milestones

Introduces the Ricoh Auto Half, a half frame camera that proves to be a massive hit

Ricoh Auto Half (1963)
Ricoh Auto Half (1963)
Size comparison to a tobacco box
Size comparison to a tobacco box
Auto Half series
Auto Half series
Ricoh Auto 35
Ricoh Auto 35

Ricoh is a leading pioneer in the field of automatic camera technologies. In 1960 it released Ricoh Auto 35, the first electric-eye camera developed by a Japanese company; and then in 1962, rolled out the more advanced and handy Ricoh Auto Half—a half-frame, fully automatic camera with automated exposure, focusing and film-winding functions. Being compact, purse-sized and requiring no manual control skills, the world’s smallest popular-model automatic camera of the times proved to be a huge hit, particularly with female consumers.

Dec. 1962

Founded Ricoh Industries, U.S.A., Inc.

Apr. 1963

Changes corporate name to Ricoh Company, Ltd.

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Apr. 1963
Corporate Milestones

Changes corporate name to Ricoh Company, Ltd.

Advertisement announcing the change of corporate name (1963)
Advertisement announcing the change of corporate name (1963)
Introduction of Ricoh’s corporate logo in 1963
Introduction of Ricoh’s corporate logo in 1963

Since being renamed Riken Optical Co., Ltd. in 1938 to represent its diversified business more accurately, the corporate name remained unchanged for a quarter century until April 1963 when the present name, Ricoh Company, Ltd., was adopted in recognition of the company reaching the key milestone of 10 billion yen in sales in the early 1960s. The company made a fresh start under the new name, aiming to make further quantum leaps.

Corporate logo history

Apr. 1963

Ricoh (Europe) S.A. established in Switzerland.(running until 1971)

Mar. 1965

Taiwan Ricoh Co., Ltd. founded in Taiwan.

Sep. 1965

Introduces the “Ricopy BS-1“ as its first electrostatic copier

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Sep. 1965
Product & Technology Milestones

Introduces the Ricopy BS-1 as its first electrostatic copier

Ricopy BS-1 (1965)
Ricopy BS-1 (1965)
Ricopy BS-1 installed on the Fuji Antarctic researchship (1966)
Ricopy BS-1 installed on the Fuji Antarctic researchship (1966)
Campaign advertisement for Ricopy (1965)
Campaign advertisement for Ricopy (1965)

Ricopy BS-1 was introduced in 1965, and turned out to be a key revenue earner that supported the company in its recovery from slumping business. Employing a fixed-platen structure, which marked the world’s first desktop copier to adopt that assembly, the product featured increased availability in terms of type of subject to be copied, covering not only paper sheets but also almost everything from books, textiles, jewelry, and machine parts to kitchen utensils. Ricopy BS-1 was viewed as a forerunner in an age when technological progress enabled the “duplication of anything you like,” while serving as a driving force for Ricoh’s global business development.

Jul. 1967

Tohoku Ricoh Co., Ltd. established in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Oct. 1967

Sohka Ricoh Co., Ltd. founded in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. (renamed Ricoh Tokki Co., Ltd. in 1972, and then Ricoh Unitechno Co., Ltd. in 1990).

Dec. 1968

Founder and President Kiyoshi Ichimura passes away (16th).

Jan. 30, 1969

Mikio Tatebayashi appointed president (until Oct. 22, 1976).