Names are important. They are integral to our identity, link us to others, and place us in time and space. Often, they convey a meaning. For example, my name in Arabic means beautiful and good. It says it all! 😊. Companies are alike, and their name often carries valuable and unexpected information. If you are interested in electronics like me, you must know SHARP corporation from Japan. Besides developing liquid crystal displays, they also released the first pocket computer programmable in the BASIC language during the ‘80s. It was my first computer.
Did you ever ask yourself what SHARP means? Obviously, it is not the name – even westernized – of a founder, like CASIO, derived from Tadao Kashio (樫尾忠雄). Indeed, SHARP was founded by Tokuji Hayakawa (早川 徳次). Even so, the name comes from one of the early products the Hayakawa family was manufacturing: the ever-ready sharp pencil! Tokuji obtained a patent for his metallic mechanical pencil design in Japan and the US (1915-20, here). Yet, SHARP is not READY. Indeed, the Hayakawa mechanical pencil was often referred to as ever-sharp, which in turn became SHARP. But don’t mistake the ever-sharp pencil as the Eversharp pencil. Charles R. Keeran patented the latter in 1915 (here). Since, the iconic ever-sharp pencil was often gifted to customers and for celebrations. An early – survivor of the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 – model is displayed in the SHARP corporate museum in Osaka.
I could not resist bringing a pocket computer and the pencil together on a picture to pay my tribute. So, if you didn’t know what the name SHARP means, now you know! Good news: although Foxconn Technology Group acquired SHARP Corporation for 389 billion yen in March 2016, the name – and hopefully the culture – of the company remains. I can only dream of a pocket computer made by Foxconn under the SHARP name 😊.