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Japan workmanship

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#1 grif 678

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 05:33 PM

I think this may have been brought up before, but it amazes me that back in the 60's, anything made in Japan was considered junk. Remember seeing stickers on toys, and stuff saying made in Japan, and people would say that it was no good. But it is opposite when telescopes are concerned. Back in the telescope booming years of the 50's and 60's, that is what people wanted, and still do, a telescope made in Japan. It seems that all scopes made today are measured against Japan made scopes.


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#2 Stellar1

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 05:39 PM

Well, yes but that is a tall statement and you're forgetting names like APM LZOS, Obsession, Teeter, Astrophysics etc. All of which I would be equally as happy with, I'm darn sure EVERYONE would agree.


Edited by Stellar1, 28 July 2021 - 05:41 PM.

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#3 petert913

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 07:01 PM

Yes, but those were never considered junk.  The Japanese optics were quality in sheep's clothing.


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#4 Russell Smith

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 08:35 PM

After WW2 things from Japan did have a stigma in some circles.
Some goods did indeed fall short in quality.
Many items produced were just an attempt to kick start an economy that had been decimated by years of expansion and war.
I'm sure books have been written on the subject.
I'm just going from memory and stories from my parents.
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#5 apfever

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Posted 28 July 2021 - 09:59 PM

I was in Japan from 1965 to 68.  Dad was stationed there for a 3 year stint, USAF. I was young but remember it all very well, in grade school.  I recall the "Made in Japan" comments and the flood being sent state side.  Optics were a different story though. My dad was quite the shutter bug and Japan optics were getting world wide notoriety for excellence while lesser "Made in Japan" items took a brunt hit. Other countries had good optical producers but Japan managed to mass produce a plethora maintaining excellent quality control. Binoculars, microscopes, telescopes, cameras, Japan did them all, did them well, and did them in quantity. We came back home with more than just cameras.


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#6 GreyDay

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:15 AM

As we're talking Japanese workmanship, I can't help but mention the way Japanese cars and motorcycles set a new standard starting in the late 60's. Much better design and reliability brought about the end of the British motorcycle industry as well as quite a few car manufacturers. Even the US placed a ban on Japanese domestic market cars, instead here in the UK our government insisted on Japanese manufacturers building factories on British soil to keep our auto industry alive. At this point we were still producing brass telescopes! it's no wonder that cheaper better quality japanese items replaced all the stuff made here in the UK.

 

While the Japanese became a well oiled machine through the 60's and 70's, british industry was plagued with lack of foresight, strikes, and the mistaken belief that british was best. By the start of the 80's British brands were dieing out or being bought out by overseas companies, it's strange that this period was also the turning point for "Halle era" mass produced junk telescopes. It seems that everything goes full circle and as British industry fell victim to Japan, the Japanese have fallen victim to China, and if economists have got it right, China will be overthrown by India, Korea and Malaysia.

 

Industry (sadly) is always steered by cheapest manufacturing for maximum profit and along the way quality suffers. I often hear people say "nothing is built to last these days" which is a sad reflection on todays society, sure we want it cheap, we want newer and better with more features, but we're sacrificing quality and longevity for a marked down price. Japanese telescopes were better quality and built to last as our classics prove, but like everything else (cars, motorcycles, televisions, white goods) cheaper options take over and quality suffers.


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#7 Senex Bibax

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 08:04 AM

As we're talking Japanese workmanship, I can't help but mention the way Japanese cars and motorcycles set a new standard starting in the late 60's. Much better design and reliability brought about the end of the British motorcycle industry as well as quite a few car manufacturers. Even the US placed a ban on Japanese domestic market cars, instead here in the UK our government insisted on Japanese manufacturers building factories on British soil to keep our auto industry alive. At this point we were still producing brass telescopes! it's no wonder that cheaper better quality japanese items replaced all the stuff made here in the UK.

 

While the Japanese became a well oiled machine through the 60's and 70's, british industry was plagued with lack of foresight, strikes, and the mistaken belief that british was best. By the start of the 80's British brands were dieing out or being bought out by overseas companies, it's strange that this period was also the turning point for "Halle era" mass produced junk telescopes. It seems that everything goes full circle and as British industry fell victim to Japan, the Japanese have fallen victim to China, and if economists have got it right, China will be overthrown by India, Korea and Malaysia.

 

Industry (sadly) is always steered by cheapest manufacturing for maximum profit and along the way quality suffers. I often hear people say "nothing is built to last these days" which is a sad reflection on todays society, sure we want it cheap, we want newer and better with more features, but we're sacrificing quality and longevity for a marked down price. Japanese telescopes were better quality and built to last as our classics prove, but like everything else (cars, motorcycles, televisions, white goods) cheaper options take over and quality suffers.

There is a line by Mark E. Smith in The Fall's "The Classical" that sums it up neatly: "Made with the highest British attention... to the wrong details". I think of higher-end British cars with beautiful burled walnut and leather interiors, combined with outdated mechanical design and appalling reliability.


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#8 Terra Nova

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 08:42 AM

And that is exactly why I’ve been driving Nissan pickups for thirty years! They are well made and made here, and manage to maintain excellent quality control!


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#9 Kasmos

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 01:53 PM

Growing up in the 60s I feel like I use to hear the phrase, "cheap Japanese transistor radio". Also, in old comedy shows when something failed, for laughs they'd look at the item (or label) and say, "Made in Japan". It's been such a long time, am I only imagining that?


Edited by Kasmos, 29 July 2021 - 01:54 PM.


#10 jsiska

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 03:55 PM

The original Back to the Future movie summarized it all as the 1955 Doc Brown's first seeing of Marty’s 1985 VHS video recorder and it went something like this:

 

Doc Brown: “Amazing, a complete recording studio in a little box.”

 

Then the Doc reads out loud the label on the recorder, “Made in Japan…It must be junk.”

 

Marty: “Doc, what do you mean? All the best stuff is made in Japan.”

 

Doc: Amazing!!!


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#11 jsiska

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:03 PM

I thought that a long time ago, I read an article that mentioned that at the time, the Japanese government would orchestrate a targeting of a particular industry to concentrate on for the purpose of  improving products to compete against the world market. First they targeted optics meaning telescopes, cameras, and such. Then later they targeted small electronics, like transister radios, stereo equipment and televisions. Then later still, motorcycles and then automobiles. 

 

Now it seems like Japanese industries have also outsourced quite a bit of manufacturing to China.


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#12 jsiska

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:06 PM

Maybe, in a future squeal Back to the Future movie the Marty's grandson will say to someone thirty years earlier, "But what do you mean... all the best stuff is made in China."


Edited by jsiska, 29 July 2021 - 04:07 PM.


#13 stomias

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:08 PM

Growing up in the 60's, I sure remember the stigma of Japanese stuff being junk. Being a fly fisherman and bamboo rod restorer, I can attest that the post WWII cane flyrods that many GI's brought home were pure junk. Looked fine, but the long tradition of the fine American bamboo makers proved them a horrible "copy"...Now, on the devils flea market. you see crazy prices for these because of the false idea that if a Gillum cane rod is worth $8,000, then my grandfathers WWII Japanese bamboo rod that he brought home after the war MUST be worth at least $1,000. No, in the cane rod market they are known as "tomato stakes"..... I know optics are a different beast.............


Edited by stomias, 29 July 2021 - 04:46 PM.

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#14 Szumi

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:39 PM

I'm sure after WWII Japan pushed out some junk to make some money but I believe government policy via MITI? became, we send out only the good stuff. 



#15 PawPaw

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:48 PM

As the title states:  Japan workmanship:

 

 

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#16 Pezdragon

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 04:57 PM

Growing up in the 50’s-60’s the now long discounted rumor in the USA was that Japan used a town named Usa to route products through so they could label them “made in usa “. Never happened but funny how that kind of thing spreads…


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#17 stomias

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 05:12 PM

Now....Made in Japan....................................................Wisconsin.


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#18 stomias

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 05:13 PM

Or, made in Cairo.............................................Illinois


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#19 rcwolpert

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 05:50 PM

There is a line by Mark E. Smith in The Fall's "The Classical" that sums it up neatly: "Made with the highest British attention... to the wrong details". I think of higher-end British cars with beautiful burled walnut and leather interiors, combined with outdated mechanical design and appalling reliability.

Many years ago I was the North American Marketing Mgr for EMI (yes, the company that "owned" the Beatles, Abby Road, etc.). I was in the scientific end selling photomultiplier tubes and camera tubes. We had the first hemispherical PMT's for the neutrino experiments (at that time taking place in the Morton Salt mines in Ohio. When the Japanese company appeared (Hamamatsu TV  or HTV at that time) and made the hemispherical tubes, I knew we were in trouble. The Japanese pay very close attention to cleanliness and the smallest details, the British didn't.

 

In 2001 I joined Hamamatsu (Google Hamamatsu) and we made (and still do) the very best photonic devices. I was the major account manager for our largest customers and I was fully involved not only with PMT's, but with Photodiodes, laser diodes, CMOS, and the state-of-the-art TDI CCD's, some of which I sold for $160K each. No one else could touch the technology. I'd go to Japan 6x a year and spent countless hours in their factories watching them do miraculous things, still with attention to cleanliness and the smallest details that make a product great. As far as China is concerned, we'd only outsource the most basic of PMT's and PD's because we didn't want our technology stolen. The Japanese will only outsource to China the technology that's not really worth stealing - the cheap stuff. They're not stupid.

 

That same attention to cleanliness and detail is what enabled them to make such fine telescopes, from the classics until this day. The one thing I miss about not working (retired 4 years ago) is my trips to Japan. I love the culture and the people. One of these years I'll be going back on my own dime, just to see old friends and enjoy the food.


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#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 06:06 PM

General MacArthur invited W. Edwards Deming to meet with the leaders of Japanese industry and teach them statistical process control. They learned.. we didn't. There is an award in Japan named in honor of Deming. 

 

https://en.m.wikiped..._Edwards_Deming

 

The Nikon F was introduced in 1959..

 

Jon


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#21 stomias

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 07:45 PM

The Nikon film SLR's WERE a work of art!!!!! Had a few.  Have 1960's lenses that I STILL use....Metal and glass.


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#22 brian dewelles

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Posted 29 July 2021 - 11:39 PM

The Nikon film SLR's WERE a work of art!!!!! Had a few.  Have 1960's lenses that I STILL use....Metal and glass.

When i graduated from high school in june 1973, i got the usual gifts, mostly cash, and dinner out with my family. The next day i was sitting on our front porch in rochester, (a favorite activity of mine, we had a great front porch) and my dad, who was a printer, came home for lunch. He handed me a bag with three boxes inside, all beautiful Nikon, the F body, the photonic FTN metering head, and the 50mm 1.4 lens. I still think it's the greatest camera ever, i know it was the greatest graduation gift ever.


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#23 Bowlerhat

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Posted 30 July 2021 - 03:57 AM

Remember seeing stickers on toys, and stuff saying made in Japan, and people would say that it was no good.

Yellow peril, also happening to that country now.

 

And..to be honest not only japan..Asia in general. Japan, Korea (south), Taiwan, Singapore..did I mention singapore, an island of a country, and now their currency is equal to australian dollar here?

WHen Osaka expo opened, it might be an expo, but they make it real. Those technology lives because they built it.



#24 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 30 July 2021 - 04:43 PM

Japan has been producing high quality optics for a long time. Any student of WW2 will know the stories of Japanese lookouts finding US ships with binos at night before the US ships found the Japsnese ships with radar.

Not all the scopes from Japan were excellent. Some companies went the mass production route, while others put quality first.

And Demming was a huge benefit for Japan. He tried to get US companies to understand quality control, but nobody was interested. The Japanese were, and we have seen the results. After the war, the US had the only intact economy and was producing goods for the whole world. How short sighted to think that the boom would last.
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#25 Nippon

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Posted 30 July 2021 - 06:46 PM

I think Japan was very capable of excellent quality workmanship before and during WWII. Nikon, or Nippon Kogaku made optics for the Japanese military. I doubt that any WWII pilots in the Pacific theater during the war thought the Zero was a junk fighter plane. There were probably some low cost products of poor quality that were imported to the USA after the war that were produced to help the country's economy recover. But I think most Americans had less than a warm feeling to see any products from Japan. Most memories of the war were fresh and bitter.


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