• Announcements
  • Obtaining IP Rights
  • JPO Activities
  • Statistics ⁄ References
  • About JPO
  • FAQs

Main content starts here.

Yasujiro Niwa Phototelegraphic Method

(Prepared by Pubulic Relations Section Genneral Affairs Division)

Yasujiro Niwa and Masatsugu Kobayashi invented a new type of phototelegraphic device, consisting of a separate transmitter and receiver and using a dedicated line, which would lay the technological foundation for the present-day fax machine.

In 1928, the newspaper industry was concerned over how to most quickly print pictures of the Showa Emperor's enthronement ceremony in its newspapers and report the news to the people of Japan. As a result of this competition, newspaper companies imported phototelegraphic devices, which did not perform well when tested. Without further time for development, newspapers bought Niwa and Kobayashi's machines, which were a great success. This was the first commercialization of these devices in Japan.

Despite the fact that introduction of technology from America and Europe formed the core of the cutting-edge field of electronics, the phototelegraphic field in Japan was established based on domestic technology. This field later contributed greatly to the development of Japanese fax technology.

Phototelegraphic device (transmitter)

Phototelegraphic device (transmitter)

Phototelegraphic device (transmitter and stand)

Phototelegraphic device (transmitter and stand)

Phototelegraphic device used to transmit pictures of the Showa Emperor's enthronement ceremony (left: receiver right: transmitter)

(Photos: NEC Corporation)

Linked from [Ten Japanese Great Inventors]

[Last updated 7 October 2002]