Although Sharp owed its initial success, and eventually its name¹, to the Ever-Sharp Mechanical Pencil, it was the calculator that really transformed its fortunes.
In 1981 (according to Sharp’s corporate history at www.sharp-world.com) the two companies that had been marketing Sharp electronic office equipment were merged to form Sharp Business, Co., Ltd.
Thereafter, Sharp made its first forays into the (western) electronic office typewriter market.
ZX-400 and ZX-500 (LCD display) office electronic typewriters were introduced in 1982. These heavy-duty machines were manufactured in Japan.
ZX-500 brochure (from my collection)
XQ series (315, 320, 325, 340, 345, 345A, 355, 360, 370, 370A, 380 and 550) office typewriters were also made in Japan …
But these later-model ZX-series machines were manufactured in Korea …
In 1985 Sharp decided to make “information processing for the individual and the home” a key priority in generating new product demand. Company president Haruo Tsuji presented the idea of “personal appliances” as opposed to conventional “home appliances”.
OA stands for Office Automation and means products such as word processors and fax machines that make paperwork efficient by automation.
PA means the personal version of OA products, targeting individual consumers.
PA-4000 (AKA GL-110L)
The inevitable consequence of this decision was that Sharp electronic typewriters became smaller and smaller …
Not that downsizing their typewriters was ever going to be a problem …
In developing calculators to be used anywhere, anytime and by anyone, a new technology was needed to make them smaller, more affordable and energy efficient. Sharp’s decision to pursue LSI and LCD technologies in the mid 1960s was part of this process. Both were crucial to later expansion into fields such as OA (office automation) and data processing equipment.
¹ Tokuji Hayakawa started a metalworking shop in Tokyo in 1912. The company changed its name from Hayakawa Electric Industry Co., Ltd. to Sharp Corporation in 1969.