Olympus serial number timeline

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jayjay
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Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:09 am

Olympus serial number timeline

#1 Post by jayjay » Mon Mar 07, 2022 11:10 am

Hi Olympus collectors,
I have a couple of Olympus microscopes that I would like to date more accurately. I haven’t been able to find a plot of Olympus serial numbers versus year of manufacture as I’ve seen for other brands such as Leitz. If one exists, please let me know. If not, I was hoping we could make our own.
I have a nice little Olympus VT-2 stereo microscope with a dated inspection certificate and even the year engraved on it as it was a gift from the company (see pics). Just wondering if anyone else wants to add their serial numbers and documented year of manufacture so we can make a plot?

Serial # Year
228738 1975


Thanks, J.
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jayjay
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:09 am

Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#2 Post by jayjay » Tue Mar 15, 2022 10:39 am

This may be more challenging than I thought - it seems that at least some models may have their own serial number sequence. Here's what I have so far:

Chief body serial # Date Inspected
Model E
229693 28 April 1965
240989 30 August 1965
259574 18 April 1967
312697 26 Jan 1972

GC
91846 8 Dec 1948

GB
210526 8 Feb 1956
212013 26 May 1956
234732 30 Jan 1961

KM
204651 2 April 1966

SZ
202772 1968
246477 Feb 1974

ST
117965 19 Jan 1928
313058 7 Feb 1941

ST-3
404454 12 Feb 1971

VT-2
228738 April 1975

jayjay
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:09 am

Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#3 Post by jayjay » Wed Mar 23, 2022 7:10 am

I've made some progress with the serial numbers v Inspection Certificate dates for some models below.
Olympus serial number timeline_230322.jpg
Olympus serial number timeline_230322.jpg (63.23 KiB) Viewed 2811 times
It would be great to add some more data points and additional models if you have Inspection Certificate data you want to share.
Thanks, JJ.

jayjay
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:09 am

Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#4 Post by jayjay » Sun Mar 27, 2022 10:10 pm

A couple of additions:
Olympus serial number timeline_280322.jpg
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jayjay
Posts: 19
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#5 Post by jayjay » Wed Mar 30, 2022 2:37 am

Thanks to those who have provided data. Here's a couple of additional models and data points:
Olympus serial number timeline_300322.jpg
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jayjay
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:09 am

Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#6 Post by jayjay » Wed Apr 20, 2022 2:16 am

A few additions, plus I've further sub-divided some models
Olympus timeline_200422.JPG
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jayjay
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#7 Post by jayjay » Tue May 03, 2022 3:32 am

Some more plus an edit to Model E bino
Olympus serial number timeline_030522.jpg
Olympus serial number timeline_030522.jpg (85.28 KiB) Viewed 1864 times

jayjay
Posts: 19
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#8 Post by jayjay » Mon Jun 06, 2022 10:16 am

A few more data points...
Olympus serial number timeline_060622.jpg
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jayjay
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#9 Post by jayjay » Mon Jun 27, 2022 3:38 am

More models and data points - thanks to all who have provided certificate info.
Olympus serial number timeline_270622.jpg
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jayjay
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#10 Post by jayjay » Tue Jun 28, 2022 2:56 am

I am very grateful to have been informed that Olympus Inspection Certificates written in Japanese used the traditional Japanese calendar year system, not the Western calendar year. The traditional Japanese calendar is based on how many years each emperor has reigned since beginning their rule, with each emperor given his own era name. Emperor Hirohito reigned from 1926 until his death in 1989 and this is known as the Showa era. Almost all vintage Olympus microscopes are from this era. The earliest Olympus microscopes from 1920-1926 are from the Taisho era.
Below is an example of a Showa era certificate for a Model GK microscope (serial #266485) inspected on 41.5.31 which equates to May 31 1966 according to https://www.ewc.co.jp/Pages/Information/CalendarEN.aspx
Olympus GK 266485 IC.JPG
Olympus GK 266485 IC.JPG (76.42 KiB) Viewed 1022 times
Based on this, I have edited some of the data. It now appears models ST, ST-2 and ST-3 can be combined into a single plot as their timelines appear continuous. I have also been able to add some additional data points to some models that didn't fit the timelines when read as Western calendar years. I have also corrected an error in a model SZ data point and added model UCE.

Olympus serial number timeline_280622.jpg
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jayjay
Posts: 19
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#11 Post by jayjay » Wed Jun 29, 2022 8:58 pm

Hi all,
I appreciate the details of the plots are not easy to see. If anyone wants an approximate date of manufacture of one the models listed, then you’re welcome to send me your model and serial number and I’ll let you know which known dates it fits between.

jayjay
Posts: 19
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:09 am

Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#12 Post by jayjay » Tue Jul 12, 2022 3:24 am

Model POM added
Olympus serial number timeline_120722.jpg
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jayjay
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#13 Post by jayjay » Sun Jul 17, 2022 11:28 am

A decent number of additional data points:
Olympus serial number timeline_170722.jpg
Olympus serial number timeline_170722.jpg (95.93 KiB) Viewed 574 times

jayjay
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#14 Post by jayjay » Sun Jul 31, 2022 4:25 am

A few additions plus hopefully a slightly more readable format.
Olympus model timelines_310722.JPG
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jayjay
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#15 Post by jayjay » Tue Aug 02, 2022 10:44 am

I've played around with the data received so far and I think I've found something interesting. Since the early 1950s, there are no serial numbers below 200000, even for models that were released in the 60s and 70s and for which I have a decent number of data points. This suggests to me that sometime in the mid-50s Olympus decided to re-structure their serial numbering system and start each new model at 200000. A cynic might think this was a marketing ploy to make it look like they were selling even more units than they were..?
So if you have serial number 200001 for a given model, you may actually have the first unit produced, and many of us may have much earlier units than we thought! It will be interesting to see if my theory holds up as more data is added - so please keep the Inspection Certificate info coming in!
All Data combined_020822.JPG
All Data combined_020822.JPG (42.71 KiB) Viewed 239 times

jayjay
Posts: 19
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Re: Olympus serial number timeline

#16 Post by jayjay » Tue Aug 02, 2022 11:03 am

The other thing the combined dataset shows is that the various student ST and HS versions can be grouped into one timeline as follows.
Olympus model timelines_020822.JPG
Olympus model timelines_020822.JPG (137.02 KiB) Viewed 236 times

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