Originally Posted by aizan
what kind of skillset and capital does it take to manufacture lenses like miyazaki does? you read about nikon starting out in a garage and you get ideas.
Miyazaki-san used to work for a toy manufacturer in Japan where he designed microscopes and telescopes. When he retired, he started designing his own lenses and got his parts manufactured by the same suppliers he used when still working for the toy manufacturer, with him doing the assembly work on that bench pictured above. He started with small lots of just 200 lenses, and slowly built up the volumes. A few years ago I heard he was thinking of getting the assembly done by a company in China, so I'm not sure if if he still does it that way.
As for Nikon starting out in a garage, that internet myth has always puzzled me. Nikon was formed by an amalgamation of several smaller optics companies in 1917 as a government initiative to make Japan self sufficient for its military-related optics requirements. After WW2, the occupation forces prohibited Nikon from making military equipment, so in 1948 they started making film cameras & lenses at the Nikon 101 building, which was built in 1933. This building was one of just a few concrete buildings in Tokyo when it was built and was considered an example of very modern architecture at the time. As you can see, its a wee bit bigger than a garage. It survived the fire bombing of Tokyo in WW2, only to be demolished last year.
Photo from 1933
Nikon F production line in this building in the early 1960s