||The Wacom story begins in the editorial office of a Tokyo daily newspaper where Wacom founding members were grappling with the task of increasing the efficiency of type setting with the 30,000 or so characters used in Japanese. After a tablet and cursor were developed suitable to do the job, it was quickly realised that there was a huge need for devices to make computers more versatile and their interface more natural.
In 1983, after founding Wacom Co Ltd, the first Wacom pen tablet and cordless pointing devices (pen and cursor) was launched into the Japanese market.
Initially, because of the lack of DTP (desktop publishing) computer systems in Japan, it was primarily CAD (computer aided design) users who adopted Wacom digitiser technology. In Europe and the US, however, it was a different story. When Wacom expanded sales into these markets in 1988, corded graphics tablets were already being used with high-priced, high-end video graphics and pre-press systems. The market was very new, specialised and rather small in terms of number of systems and the dominant tablets were pressure sensitive but not cordless.
With its pressure sensitive, cordless, battery-free pen, Wacom was quickly able to excel in this niche sector.
Wacom laid the foundation for its growth in the DTP market with the development of a Macintosh driver in 1989. The company also forged relationships with Macintosh graphics software developers resulting in applications such as Adobe Photoshop featuring support for pressure sensitivity.
Today there is a wide range of powerful graphics programmes which support pressure sensitivity and, in conjunction with pen tablets and pressure sensitive pens, these programmes allow graphics professionals to simulate most of the conventional drawing and writing tools – from the paintbrush to the pen and pencil, crayon to charcoal, as well as enabling an arsenal of pressure sensitive image editing tools.
Since the early days of desk top publishing, Wacom has continued to support the DTP market and is now the dominant supplier of graphics tablets and pens in this field. In fact, the vast majority of graphics tablets used in the DTP market come from Wacom.
Wacom Europe markets five product ranges in its own name. The Intuos3 Pen Tablet System and Cintiq Interactive Pen Displays are designed for the professional user. Intuos3 is targeted at professionals in digital photography, graphics, 2D/3D design, industrial design, audio and video markets. The Interactive Pen Display consists of a LC colour screen and integrated tablet for working directly on the screen with a pressure sensitive pen. The stylish Cintiq 21UX′s large format 21.3" display with high UXGA resolution provides increased functionality with full Intuos3 compatible featureset. The main target users for the Interactive Pen Displays are the industrial, automotive and textile/fashion designers, illustrators, graphics artists and digital imaging professionals.
In the consumer market, Wacom′s Volito2 is the perfect tool for new users looking for a comfortable input device for all PC applications, and who like to draw, write or create funny pictures. An interactive tutorial is included where a speaker guides the user step-by-step through the features and capabilities of Volito2.
Graphire4 is a range of consumer pen tablets that provide the ideal tools for conveniently optimising digital photographs. The Graphire4 pen tablets are available with a new ergonomically designed pen and tablet either in A6 or A5 size and come in different configurations with or without software – Graphire4 Classic, Graphire4 Classic XL, Graphire4 Studio and Graphire4 Studio XL. The Graphire4 pen tablets feature two Express Keys and for the first time a scroll wheel.
With the Graphire Bluetooth, Wacom has developed its first wireless pen tablet for Mac and PC. Targeted at digital imaging enthusiasts, the stylishly designed A5 format pen tablet works up to 10 metres away from the computer.
For the office market, Wacom also offers the PenPartner2, an ultra-slim and compact pen tablet for use with a notebook, aimed at business professionals and business travellers. PenPartner2 is ideal for adding hand-written notes into Microsoft Office documents and personalising emails with signatures.
For many years Wacom has promoted the use of the pen as a having substantial benefits for general computing. The first Pen Computing concept product (Lombard) and first pen OS (PenPoint) was developed by Go Corporation using Wacom hardware. Wacom also supplied hardware and technology for the first commercial Pen Computer, the NCR 3125, launched in 1992. Wacom has promoted the use of the pen as a having substantial benefits for general computing and has sought opportunities to supply Wacom technology to computer manufacturers. Wacom′s ′penabled technology′ has been used in pen tablets, LCD tablets and pen-computers. Today, Wacom is a key supplier of the ′Penabled technology′ for the new Microsoft based Tablet PCs as well as for the ICT product development such as Smart phones and PDAs.
Wacom ′s success to date has been largely due to technical excellence and innovation, coupled with pioneering sales and marketing. Technical research and development continues to be a number one priority for the company with engineers in Japan, America and Europe constantly sharing market intelligence and working towards the further development of the Wacom technologies and product range. Wacom′s inductive pen sensing technology has been used in over 2 million graphics tablets, LCD tablets and pen–computers since its inception over 20 years ago.