Nikon was founded in 1917 when three of Japan’s most prominent optics manufacturers joined together to form Nippon Kogaku K.K. Though Nikon is most notable today for its wide range of cameras, the first products to roll off of their production lines were binoculars (4x and 6x), microscopes and telescopes.
As early as 1932, Nikon was marketing its camera lenses under the Nikkor designation; though it would be another fourteen years before it began to use the name Nikon for its small cameras in 1946. Nikon’s first commercially produced camera, the Nikon I, became available in 1948 and thanks to its success, Nikon had become such a hit that in 1950 the New York Times featured an article singing the praises of Nikon and “introducing the superior features of Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses to the world.”
Fast forward to 1986; after the 1983 success of the Nikon “One-touch” (their first compact camera with autofocus), Nikon releases their first SLR with autofocus, the Nikon F-501.
By 1995 Nikon was manufacturing its first true digital SLRs and in 1999 they released the D1; the precursor to DSLRs that we all know and love today. The D1 sported a whopping 2.7 mega-pixel sensor and weighed in at just under two and a half pounds without a lens. All that digital goodness could be yours for only $5,580!!