Uchida Yoko was founded in 1910 in Dalian, China. Yoko is the Chinese term for a shop run by foreigners; at that time, the word also symbolized the frontier spirit demonstrated by those who took on the challenge of starting up a new business in a foreign country.
Kotaro Uchida was born in 1871, the second son of renowned jujutsu master Tatsuzo Munetaka Uchida of Takuhan (now the city of Taku in Saga prefecture). This was a time when the samurai class was rapidly disappearing under the Meiji Restoration. Having experienced grinding poverty that threatened the very survival of his family, the young Uchida was determined to make something of himself as a pioneer in the new world.
founder Kotaro Uchida
In 1893, Japan was working feverishly to achieve industrial modernization and national prosperity while building up her military capacity. At 22 years of age, Uchida journeyed alone to Tokyo, where he passed the Ministry of Communications civil service examination and was assigned to the Yokohama Post Office. He was transferred to the Taipei Post Office in 1900, shortly after the end of the Sino-Japanese war, to work as a surveyor for the Taiwan Land Bureau, a job that saw him travelling the length and breadth of Taiwan. Shortly after he arrived back in Japan the Russo-Japanese war broke out. Uchida volunteered to serve in the railways field army and was dispatched to the new frontier of Manchuria. When the war ended abruptly, the newly formed field army was converted into the Southern Manchurian Railway Company. Kotaro Uchida became an employee of the Southern Manchurian Railway Company in 1907, at 36 years of age.
Uchida Yoko branch in Dalian
He departed just two years later, determined to play his part in resurrecting the Uchida family. In 1910 he founded Suitaigo (predecessor of Uchida Yoko) as a supplier of surveying engineering and drawing tools and equipment to service the expansion demand of his former employers in Manchuria.
In addition to supplying our own stationery brands, we have been expanding our presence as a wholesaler for business and office equipment and products imported from Europe and the United States. As part of our involvement in marketing office supplies that are central to modern business practices, we circulate a magazine that showcases novel and innovative ideas and approaches from overseas as well as the latest products and product tips from Japan and around the world. The magazine is something of a unique approach in the industry, and it helps us to build up new markets for our products and services.
L.C. Smith typewriter
Toho automatic number stamper
Amidst growing calls in Japan for improved efficiency and a stronger focus on science and technology, the company decided to produce a modified Japanese version of the popular Western slide rule, known as the Hemmi Bamboo slide rule. Uchida Yoko played a major rule in promoting the slide rule in Japan, acting as the sole domestic distributor since before the war then sponsoring the Slide Rule Championships after the war.
Hemmi Bamboo slide rule
The humble slide rule made a significant contribution to the post-war rebuilding effort. It was formally adopted into the school curriculum, and Uchida Yoko immediately set up a national network of agencies to supply slide rules to schools. However the slide rule was subsequently abandoned under new education reforms, so the company shifted its attention to microscopes and other supplies tailored to the new emphasis on science education. Uchida Yoko helped to promote science in Japan by delivering presentations on teaching materials and classroom experiments in conjunction with local Boards of Education around the country. In addition to promoting school-based education in general, Uchida Yoko played a pioneering role in the industry with respect to equipment and facilities as well as the utilization of information in the education sector.
Uchida Compendium of
on teaching materials
and classroom experiments
Uchida Yoko produced the first Japanese-made automatic number stampers and typewriters that were marketed in the 1920s under the Toho brand. This pioneering spirit was carried on under the first president Kenmin Uchida, who launched a number of innovative products including Magic Ink in 1953, which he discovered in the United States, as well as the Kent KD drawing set from Germany, considered a premium quality product at the time. 1955 saw the release of the Taiyo Calculator, the first ever manual calculator made in Japan. Kenmin Uchida explored new avenues such as the “business show,” the first exhibition of its type in the industry.
Kent drawing set
In 1957, Uchida Yoko set up a distribution agreement with Casio Computer, which had just released to Casio 14-A, the world's first compact relay computer, as part of the nationwide drive to boost industry efficiency and science standards. While the relay computer sold well, by 1962 the company's attention was turning to the electronic computer, which was still a relative unknown in Japan at the time. After investing in Unoke Electronics Industries, an Ishikawa-based company that had successfully developed an electronic computer product, Uchida Yoko was soon able to release the first 100% domestically produced compact computer, known as the USAC. This was followed by a succession of IC computer models along with innovations such as unbundling of hardware, software and maintenance services and the introduction of hire-purchase plans. In this way, Uchida Yoko played a significant role in the growth of office computers in Japan.
1965 USAC 1010
Uchida Yoko had a presence at Japan World Expo, the first major exhibition to be held in the Asia region. The exhibit showcased the Almighty Desk, which featured a number of design innovations and provided an insight into the office space of the future. Indeed, the Uchida Yoko exhibit proved to be an accurate predictor of today’s modern office environment.
In 1981, Uchida Yoko released TES (Total Educational System), our conception of the role of computing technology in the modern classroom. This was followed in 1984 by the launch of the CAI-ACE education system, a combination of computers and other forms of education technology providing a visual and voice communication environment in five key domains: computers, linguistics, word processing, CAD and audio-visual. CAI-ACE was the first and only Japanese-produced computer-based teaching system with fully integrated hardware and software features.