Nikon Corporation was established in 1917 when two leading optical manufacturers merged to form an optical company known as Nippon Kogaku K.K. Over the next 60 years this growing company became a leading manufacturer of optical lenses and precision equipment used in cameras, binoculars, microscopes and inspection equipment.
During World War II the company grew to 19 factories and 23,000 employees, supplying items such as binoculars, lenses, bomb sights and periscopes to the Japanese military. After the war it reverted to its civilian product range with a single factory.
Besides cameras, Nikon Corporation is recognized as a world leader in development and manufacturing of advanced optical and precision photolithography equipment. In 1980, the first stepper, the NSR-1010G, was produced in Japan. Since then, Nikon has introduced over 50 models of steppers and scanners for the production of semiconductors and liquid crystal displays.
In January 2006, Nikon announced it would stop making most of its film camera models and all of its large format lenses, and focus on digital models.