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The Dawn of Fujitsu's Computer Business (1950-1958)

Fujitsu's FACOM100 was Japan's first relay-type automated electronic computer. Surrounding the FACOM100 are Toshio Ikeda (third from right), the Fujitsu engineer known as"Mr. Computer" in Japanese computer history, and Dr. Hideki Yukawa (second from right), winner of the Nobel Prize in physics. Telecommunications equipment was Fujitsu's core business at the time and the FACOM100 used telephone switches.

Photo of FACOM100 development team

After the Second World War, Fuji Tsushinki Manufacturing Corporation helped rebuild Japan's telecommunications infrastructure. The government designated Fuji Tsushinki Manufacturing as an official telephone and telegraph manufacturer, and the company grew rapidly.

At the same time, ambitious engineers in the R&D department increasingly wanted to pursue new businesses. A team of young engineers led by Toshio Ikeda dreamed of building an"electronic computing machine." The machine would be able to perform large numbers of complex calculations in a short period of time.

In the beginning of the 1950s, most computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry, but the technology was erratic and unreliable. So in 1954, Ikeda and his team developed the FACOM100 using a telephone line transfer switch called a"relay" instead. Relays had been used for many years in Fujitsu's telephone switching systems and were highly reliable.

FACOM stood for"Fuji Automatic Computer" and its development marked the beginning of Fujitsu's computer business. The success of FACOM opened up a new market for Fujitsu and taught the company's young engineers the thrill of taking on creative challenges.

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