Kiyoshi Ichimura was born in 1900 on a small farm in southern Japan. The farm didn’t make much in terms of wealth, which pushed Kiyoshi to make a better life for himself and his family. Over the years Kiyoshi learned and persevered, and eventually began working in insurance and banking. The older he got, the more motivated he was to learn and get better. At 29, Kiyoshi started his dealer company called Kyushu to sell the sensitized paper of Rikiagaku Kogyo. Sensitized paper can also be known as photographic paper for cameras. After 7 years, Riken Kankoshi Co. was born from Kyushu to create its photographic paper. Riken Kankoshi Co. would go on to be renamed Ricoh Company Ltd.
Following World War II, Riken Kankoshi made its first copier in 1955, called the Ricopy 101. This machine coined the term, “make a Ricopy”. In the 50s and 60s, Riken built all sorts of different products, like watches and cameras to go along with their photographic paper. In the 70s, Ricoh expanded its reach into Europe and North America. In 1971, Ricoh made the first office computer called the RICOM 8. For the next 10 years, Ricoh produced a host of copier machines and became an even greater world-wide success.
Fax machines nowadays are a rarity or in use by your local government, but back in 1973, they were all that people talked about, especially when talking about Ricoh. The RIFAX 600S was the world’s first high-speed fax machine. What made this invention so pivotal was the fact that it was the machine behind the accomplishment of sending fax between Tokyo and New York which put Ricoh on the map as one of the leading technology brands.
By 1987, Ricoh put out its first digital copier called the DS 320. It came out when the market was dominated by analog technology while being less expensive than other digital copiers at the time. Three years later, Ricoh put out its first digital color copier, the ARTAGE 8000, with a PPM of 15! (It was the world’s fastest color copier at the time).
Skip forward 20 years and Ricoh has branched out even more, and this time with cameras. In 2013, the RICOH THETA was the world’s first 360-degree camera. In 2015, Ricoh developed a Stereo Camera designated the RICOH-SV-M-S1 to capture 3D data. One application for this camera was to document the condition of roadways. The camera could recognize unevenness and cracks in the roadway, helping map out what roads need to be repaired. Just recently, the IM series of copiers was released by Ricoh, which focuses on interconnectivity and cloud storage.
Ricoh has been a cutting edge company for decades, producing commercial machines that were designed to provide more service while being affordable. Ricoh machines span the globe for good reason: they work.