Leaping ahead of the times

Expansion of Business Domains, the Challenge of Digital Technologies

Computers and communications made great progress, and this turbulent period drastically changed people's lives, industries and society.
With technological innovations brought about by optical and ultraprecise technologies, Nikon continued to strongly support the foundations of digital society.



Nikon F3 SLR camera is marketed

As a flagship model, the latest electronic technologies of the day were adopted for the Nikon F3. This was the first camera to offer electronic shutter control and an aperture-priority auto-exposure control mechanism. The F3 also featured new functions like an LCD viewfinder display, a TTL sensor positioned at the bottom of the camera mirror box, and Speedlight TTL flash control. The F3 was not equipped with a motor drive, but the optional motor drive was designed to work as an integral part of the camera body to achieve shooting at up to 6 fps. Both the camera and motor drive were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italy. He designed the two to appear as one when the motor drive was attached to the camera. Giugiaro's fresh design pursued a simple form featuring a raised grip on the camera body, and an eye-catching red line. These design elements had a great impact on later camera designs.

Nikon F3 Nikon F3

The Nikon F3 was introduced as the preeminent SLR camera with electronically controlled aperture-priority AE. Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro's design had a great impact on later cameras.


NSR-1010G Step-and-Repeat System (stepper) for manufacturing VLSIs is marketed

In 1976, the VLSI Technology Research Association (VLSI Labs) was promoted under the guidance of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently The Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry). The research association asked Nikon to develop a stepper to allow circuit pattern sizes to be reduced to one-tenth of what they were.

Key to this stepper would be a projection lens capable of high-precision resolution, and a high-precision, high-speed moving stage for positioning. The issue with an ultra-precise, high-speed stage is getting it to move straight. The device developed by Nikon was accurate enough to hit a tennis ball with an arrow on the top of Mt. Fuji all the way from Tokyo. Lastly, photo-electric sensors for converting light into electrical signals were needed. Nikon achieved all of these core technologies.

In March of 1978, the first prototype was delivered to the research association, followed by prototype 2. Both were highly acclaimed.

In February 1980, the NSR-1010G stepper was announced, the first domestically produced commercial device. This machine boasted one micrometer resolution and high overlay accuracy (alignment), and garnered a lot of attention for its promise in VLSI manufacture.

NSR-1010G NSR-1010G

The first domestically manufactured commercial stepper. As a next-generation VLSI production device, it achieved a high level of integration, throughput and yield.

[movie]View a movie “Toward a World of Ultra-high Precision”



TITEX titanium ophthalmic frame is marketed


The world's first titanium ophthalmic frames. Stronger than conventional nickel alloy frames and some 50% lighter.


NASA-specification Nikon F3 is equipped on the Space Shuttle Columbia

In Autumn of 1978, NASA (National Aeronautics Space Administration) requested cameras to be made for the Space Shuttle.

NASA wanted a camera completed in a year and a half that could shoot 250 photographs with automatic exposure and whose film could be changed during shooting. Thus, in May of 1980, Nikon delivered the F3 Big Camera, a 250-shot device, and a 72-shot F3 Small Camera, which were based on the F3 under development at the time. In the following year, the F3 Small Camera was fitted to the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Nikon Fieldscope is marketed



OPTISTATION IC wafer inspection system is marketed

OPTISTATION is a device that enables automated wafer transport and efficient visual inspection. This was commercialized to replace the NICIS-MX2 wafer surface inspection apparatus released in 1979.


Used for visual inspection in the etch and lithography process of semiconductor manufacturing. It contributed to the stabilization of the production line and improved yields.



Nikon L35AF autofocus compact camera is marketed

Nikon L35AF

Nikon's first compact camera.


Nikon F3AF SLR Camera is marketed

Based on the Nikon F3 body, signal contacts were included in the body to enable transmission and reception of viewfinder and AF lens signals via the body, and a drive motor was included within the lens.

Nikon L35AF Nikon F3AF

The Nikon F3AF rose to the challenge of developing an AF mechanism


Alphaphot YS biological microscope series is marketed

The CF, a revolutionary optical system developed in 1976, was adopted for biological microscopes for practice use by interns, to expand its applications. With the adoption of CF optics with very little axial or magnification chromatic aberration, these microscopes were highest performance practice devices for medicine and dentistry students that enabled them to use accessories compliant with high-end equipment such as phase difference, epifluorescent and simple polarization equipment.

Alphaphot YS Alphaphot YS

The Alphaphot YS expanded use of CF optical system to medical and dental students



NT-1000 35mm film direct telephoto transmitter is marketed

Nikon began looking into electronic imaging around the middle of 1979. In 1984, the company released the NT-1000 (B&W photographic), the world's first film direct telephoto transmitter jointly developed with Kyodo News Agency and designed for use by the press. This device revolutionized conventional systems to read enlarged prints and transmit them over telephone lines. The device could read photographic negatives and positives directly, and enabled trimming and simultaneous transmission of hand-written text while checking with a monitor to respond to the time-sensitive needs of the journalistic workplace. Also in 1988, the company released a still video camera system consisting of the QV-1000C electronic black and white camera, QV-Nikkor interchangeable lenses and the QV-1010T electronic transmitter. These technologies led to the development of Nikon's digital camera systems.

NT-1000 NT-1000

The world's first 35mm film direct transmitter. It was co-developed with Kyodo News.

NSR-1010i3 Step-and-Repeat System (stepper) is marketed



Total Station DTM-1 surveying instrument is marketed


The first Nikon Total Station and the first fully digitized Nikon surveying instruments.



TRISTATION 600 and 600M three-dimensional coordinate measuring machines are marketed


The first three-dimensional coordinate measuring machine designed by Nikon and the first such machine in Japan to achieve spatial measurement accuracy within five micrometers.

Nikon F-501 autofocus SLR camera is marketed

Nikon F-501

The first Nikon SLR camera with autofocus operated from the camera body.


NSR-L7501G large substrate exposure system is marketed

Making use of its semiconductor lithography technologies, Nikon engaged in the development of flat panel display (FPD) lithography systems for manufacturing LCD displays. Aiming for lithographs that could form 3-5 micrometer circuits (switches) on glass plates used for display substrates, the company released the NSR-L7501G large substrate exposure system in 1986. Semiconductor lithographs of the day were only capable of exposing a maximum area of 30mm square, but this equipment could expose 75mm square.

NSR-L7501G NSR-L7501G

First of Nikon's LCD steppers and scanners. The launch was quick to meet the increasing demand for liquid crystal display products.



NSR-1505EX excimer stepper is marketed


Corporate name is changed to Nikon Corporation

On April 1, 1988 the Nippon Kogaku K.K. restarted as the Nikon Corporation. At the time, the Nikon brand already possessed an excellent reputation in a number of different fields. To spread globally, the company name was changed to develop as an international company, taking advantage of its name for reliability.

Nikon logotype and logo design Nikon logotype and logo design

Both Nikon logotype and logo design format established at the time.

LS-3500 35mm film scanner is marketed


LS-3500 Color images taken on 35mm film are sent to a PC by converting them to digital signals.



Nikonos RS underwater AF SLR camera is marketed

Nikonos RS

The Nikonos RS enabled autofocus shooting underwater.



NEXIV series CNC video measuring system is marketed

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) image measurement systems use the image-processing technologies of computers and optical measurement technologies to measure and inspect the dimensions and shapes of workpieces, including precision devices and electronic components.

As electronic and automotive parts became more detailed and precise, the need for non-contact optical measurement systems to measure component surfaces without touching them was ever-more pressing. Furthermore, as automation in manufacturing became more prevalent, strong demand for automated, high-speed mass measurement industrial inspection processes emerged. To meet these demands, the company developed the Nikon EXcellent Intelligent Vision system (NEXIV) based on the concept of automating the vision and judgment of humans.

NEXIV uses a CCD camera to detect the edge of the workpiece from an image, and can process data to make complex measurements with high precision. The telecentric optics system does not change size even with focus shift or image blur (the size appears the same whether far or near). This is an appropriate optical system for processing and measuring images because the image dimensions are constant.

By developing this revolutionary technology, Nikon achieved detection with speed and accuracy beyond the capabilities of humans, which contributes to maintaining quality in inspection processes of cutting-edge precision parts as they become increasingly complex.


Non-contact high-precision measurement was made possible by image-processing technology. The confocal-type microscope enabled measurement of a two-dimensional field and height in the same field of view.

E2 and E2s digital still cameras are marketed

E2 and E2s

Developed with Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. (now FUJIFILM Corp.), these SLR-type digital cameras are equipped with the unique Reduction Optics System and are compatible with major F-mount lenses.

NSR-S201A lens-scanning KrF excimer stepper is marketed


The world's first lens scanning type KrF excimer stepper (KrF scanner) corresponding to design rules of less than 0.25 micrometers.



Nikon Fieldmicroscope is marketed


A portable stereoscopic microscope that allows "as is" observation.

ECLIPSE E800 biological microscope for research is marketed


The optical system of the infinity optics (CFI60) system was revamped to make the parfocal distance of the objective lens 60mm.



COOLPIX 100 and 300 digital cameras are marketed


Nikon's first compact digital camera. The COOLPIX 100 shown here could be inserted into a PC card slot to transfer data directly to the computer. Pen-touch operation was possible with the COOLPIX 300.