Nikon Corporation was established on 25 July 1917 when three leading optical manufacturers merged to form a comprehensive, fully integrated optical company known as Nippon Kōgaku Tōkyō K.K.
Over the next sixty years, this growing company became a manufacturer of optical lenses (including those for the first Canon cameras) and equipment used in cameras, binoculars, microscopes and inspection equipment. During World War II the company operated thirty factories with 2,000 employees, manufacturing binoculars, lenses, bomb sights, and periscopes for the Japanese military.
Reception outside Japan. After the war Nippon Kōgaku reverted to producing its civilian product range in a single factory. In 1948, the first Nikon-branded camera was released, the Nikon I. Nikon lenses were popularised by the American photojournalist David Douglas Duncan. Duncan was working in Tokyo when the Korean War began. Duncan had met a young Japanese photographer, Jun Miki, who introduced Duncan to Nikon lenses. From July 1950 to January 1951, Duncan covered the Korean War. Fitting Nikon optics (especially the NIKKOR-P.C 1:2 f=8,5 cm) to his Leica rangefinder cameras produced high contrast negatives with very sharp resolution at the centre field.