Today, one of the key players in the photography industry celebrates its 80th founding anniversary!
Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. was founded on this day 80 years ago with the aim of being the first Japanese producer of photographic films. Its foundation was also said to be based on a plan by the Japanese government to establish a local industry for manufacturing photographic film. Operations at Fuji’s Ashigara Factory, now the Kanagawa Factory Ashigara Site, started the following month, initially producing various photographic, motion picture, and X-ray films.
Fuji is well-known among photographers today for its wide range of slide, color negative, and monochromatic films. The list includes the Velvia, Provia, Astia, Sensia, and Fortia (slide); the Fujicolor Pro line, Reala, Superia and Press (negative); and the Neopan line including the SS, ACROS, Presto, and Super Presto. Fuji has also ventured into producing optical glasses, lenses, and other equipment by the 1940s. Their line of film cameras includes the widely-popular Clear Shot, Fujica, and other rangefinders, medium format, and professional film cameras. Fuji is also the producer of Fujinon, its line of optical lenses for use not only in various camera lenses but also in binoculars and even television. More, Fuji is also popular for its line of instant cameras called the Instax.
For many years, Fuji was said to have enjoyed a “longtime near-monopoly on camera film” in Japan. Fuji’s overseas expansion began in 1965 with the opening of the Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. in New York. In six months, the company opened its first office in Europe, specifically in Dusseldorf, Germany. From then until today, Fuji would also be opening offices in cities across the US, Europe, Asia, South Africa, and South America.
In 1982, Fuji’s motion picture film received the Scientific and Technical Academy and Emmy awards. Two years after, Fuji made another milestone by becoming one of the title sponsors of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The US market at the time was dominated by homegrown Eastman Kodak; however, Fuji was able to easily gain a “considerable market share” by establishing a film factory there and offering cheaper films. Conversely, Kodak was unable to reach the same success when it opened office in Fuji’s native Japan.
1986 saw the production of Fuji’s QuickSnap (Utsurundesu), the world’s first “one-time-use recyclable camera.” Two years after, it began venturing into digital photography with the production of digital still cameras by 1988. Fuji, who also had a long history in the medical field, was also able to develop between the early ‘80s until 2008 several types of medical equipment and even skin care products and nutritional supplements!
Speaking of Kodak, it remains to be Fuji’s fiercest competitor in the photography industry. In 1995, Kodak went as far as filing a petition against Fuji before the US Commerce Department, which in turn turned it over to the World Trade Organization, claiming that its lackluster performance in the Japanese market was “a direct result of unfair practices adopted by Fuji.” However, the WTO announced a “sweeping rejection of Kodak’s complaints” about Japan’s film market.
Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. has since become Fujifilm Holdings Corporation (2006), and is currently operated by Fujifilm Corporation. Fuji has gained a number of acquisitions of companies related to its business within Japan and abroad, effectively making it one of the world’s biggest and well-known companies. Forbes magazine has ranked it #583 in its list of The World’s Biggest Public Companies.
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