Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Complete History of Pentax (Very Detailed)

Here is an excellent article about the history of Pentax (in Chinese, by Steven Lin, a talent Chinese blogger at Taiwan). In the article, very detailed history about the founding of the Asahi Optical Company, the origin of the trade name of PENTAX and the development of the Pentax system are told. And, particulars of Pentax cameras and lenses etc. as well as the important milestones in the history of Pentax are well summarised.

The article is updated to the end of 2008, up to the K-m, highly recommended!
(or Google Translation Here)

It is very interesting to learn in more details that the trademark/name of Pentax, which are rarely mentioned elsewhere, is that the name was actually meant a Contax camera with a Pentaprism! The tradename was created in 1952 and registered by the VEB Zeiss Ikon company of the East Germany. Several years later, in 1957, it was sold to the Japanese Asahi Optical Company. The ownership of the Asahi Optical Company on Pentax had been holding for long until 2001, when the company became a Corporation and a Holdings Limited, of which the family members of the Asahi Optical Company was still the major shareholder of the new "Pentax Corporation". In 2007, "Pentax" was finally sold to the Hoya Corporation. This time all the Pentax assets and human resources were sold, though.

Well, who will be the next Pentax owner then? Will HOYA own Pentax and keep the brand name for longer? That depends. If the new wave of Pentax DSLR products marketing campaign by Hoya can succeed, I think so. Otherwise, I bet the next purchaser will appear very soon as it is very likely Hoya will be rather eager to seek a buyer soonest if the unfortunate thing happens, i.e., still poor marketing and sales results.

Besides, the article also tells how the name of Takumar came. It was named to commemorate the deceased uncle of
the founder (Mr. Saburo Matsumoto) of the Asahi Optical Company , Mr. Takuma Kajiwara, who was a famous photographer at Japan at that time.

As for other information about Pentax cameras and lenses, whilst those are yet concisely summarised and well presented, I think
Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page has them all and in more details.

Enjoy reading.


fatboy said...


Nice finding and as I suspected the name penta does mean something... now it is all cleared!!

I hope the name Pentax can stick around unlike Yashica which produce some odd-ball products not related to photography at all! :..-(

Anonymous said...

Nice historical account, but it skips over the important contribution of OCLI -- Optical Coating Laboratories Inc. of Santa Rosa, California. They originated the super multicoating process, provided coatings to Pentax, and then licensed the process to them. Those coatings contributed a lot to making Pentax lenses unique circa 1970, and it is still arguably the best coating on the market.

Anonymous said...

Love it,
Pentax (Asahi) always my favourite

Anonymous said...

Assessing the current state of dslr camera brands, Canon and Nikon almost have it to themselves as Olympus, with its smaller sensor has never really been seen as a major player. It is good that a genuinely good dslr, the K-3, with an innovative sensor (why didn't the brains at Canon and Nikon think of this?) provides a serious alternative for serious users and pros who are fed up with the constant minor model updates that are coming out from the big guys. viz, the Nikon D610 over the problematic D600 with its dirty shutter problems.

Well done, Ricoh. Keep it up, you deserve to succeed, despite the blinkered approach to camera ownership by many who can't see beyond the big two.

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