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Sumitomo Electric 120 Years of History

In April 2017, we will celebrate our 120th anniversary. We would like to take this opportunity to launch a new project to review our past. This issue features approximately 20 years from 1978 as the period of producing many cutting-edge products and technologies.

5th Round: 1978 – 2000


World’s first bi-directional fiber optic CATV system “Hi-OVIS” goes into operation

At the Hi-OVIS station opening ceremony, and in its studio
At the Hi-OVIS station opening ceremony, and in its studio

The world’s first large-scale attempt was made to conduct bi-directional video communications by connecting the Hi-OVIS (highly-interactive optical visual information system) Center, approximately 150 ordinary households in Nara Prefecture, and six public facilities, including an elementary school and fire station, with optical fibers. The bi-directional communications enabled information on weather, local government, traffic, and other topics to be shown on TV at each participating household immediately as requested by users. This experimental project led to a wide variety of services that are used today on a daily basis. At Sumitomo Electric, we developed the optical fiber, the transmitter/receiver, and other products and technologies that were key to the project. As indicated by the inspection by his Majesty the Emperor Hirohito in 1984, the project drew much attention in those days.


Sumitomo Electric develops world’s first power and optical submarine cable


Sumitomo Electric produces world’s largest-class synthetic monocrystal diamond (1.2 carats)

In those days, a U.S. company had already succeeded in producing an artificial diamond with a diameter of approximately 1 mm, and thus it was deemed that it would be impossible to develop diamonds without using the existing patent. After continued research, however, we succeeded in producing a synthetic monocrystal diamond with a diameter of approximately 6 mm (1.2 carats). It was listed as the world’s largest synthetic diamond in the 1984 Guinness World Record Book. In 1989, we achieved mass production of 1 cm-class large synthetic monocrystal diamonds.

Certificate of being listed in the 1984 Guinness World Record Book
Certificate of being listed in the 1984 Guinness World Record Book

Sumitomo Electric’s products and technologies attract great attention at the International Exposition, Tsukuba, Japan (Tsukuba Expo’85)

Keyboard Performer Robot

One feature of the Theme Pavilion, set up by the Japanese government, was our humanoid keyboard performer robot. Featuring human intellectual abilities, such as seeing, listening and talking, this robot surprised visitors by conversing with its operator, playing pre-programmed music, and reading a score and playing it. Currently, the robot is exhibited at the Tsukuba Expo Center.

Linear Induction Motor Train

Together with another company, we jointly produced a linear induction motor train, at the time called a “future means of transportation” and “modern flying carpet.” During the event period, the train carried about 610,000 passengers and ran a total of 8,000 km without an accident. After the event, the train crossed the Pacific Ocean by ship to be exhibited at the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication in Vancouver, Canada. The train was also tried out by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.


Sumitomo Electric develops technology for producing long-length oxide high-temperature superconducting wires


Sumitomo Electric develops and begins marketing eco-friendly wires and cables


Sumitomo Electric starts sales of Japan’s first ADSL equipment

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