Milestone-Proposal:Commercialization of the fishfinder, 1948

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Docket #:

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Actions" in the toolbar above, then "Edit with form". At the bottom of the form, check the box that says "Submit this proposal to the IEEE History Committee for review. Only check this when the proposal is finished" and save the page.


To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes


Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:

1948: ‘1948’ is the year when the fishfinder of Fig. 1 was commercialized for the first time by Furuno Electric Co., Ltd.

Title of the proposed milestone:

Commercialization of the fishfinder, 1948.

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

A fishfinder was commercialized for the first time by Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. in 1948, which reformed the fishery industry and contributed remarkably to the development of protein sources. This fishfinder was realized by improving an echo sounder so that it could catch clearly the weak echo signals reflected from fish schools by enhancing the ability of its built-in amplifier.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Kansai Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):


IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:


IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):


Milestone proposer(s):


Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. Address: 9-52 Ashihara-cho, Nishinomiya, 662-8580 Japan GPS coordinates: N 34.741282, E 135.354547

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The entrance hall of Furuno Electric Co., Ltd.

Are the original buildings extant?

The original building is extant and belongs to Furuno Electric Co., Ltd.

Details of the plaque mounting:

The plaque will be displayed in the grand floor entrance hall of Furuno Electric Co., Ltd.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The plaque will be displayed in a showcase at the entrance hall of Furuno Electric Co., Ltd., which can be accessible to the public.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Mr. Yukio Furuno, President of Furuno Electric Co., Ltd.

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

The major historical significance of the fishfinder is described in what follows.

1. Historical background of the development of fishfinders

The history of technological approaches to the detection of fish schools can be traced back to the 1920s, and since then a great number of practical attempts had been made to search for the fish schools [1-6]. On the other hand, in the World War II almost all cities in Japan were reduced to ruins, until the Japanese were forced to suffer from food shortage so severely that the development of food production was one of the most urgent and crucial issues in postwar Japan. In the midst of such straitened circumstances, Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. timely commercialized a fishfinder in May 1948, which contributed significantly to the drastic increase of fish catch [7, 8].

2. History of the commercialization of fishfinders

A fishfinder was commercialized for the first time by Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. in May 1948. The story of their efforts to commercialize fishfinders is overviewed in what follows [8]:

Just after the World War II Mr. Kiyotaka Furuno noticed that an echo sounder used for plumbing the sea, sent such strong ultrasonic signals that any echo signal reflected from fish schools was too weak to detect them. Hence he started on the improvement of the built-in amplifier of an echo sounder so that it could clearly catch the weak echo signals reflected from fish schools. After several experiments he found that by raising the amplification by 120dB the built-in amplifier enabled the echo sounder to detect fish schools by means of the reflected echo signals. Thus Mr. Furuno successfully prototyped a fishfinder by enhancing the ability of the built-in amplifier of an echo sounder.

Following this prototyped fishfinder, his younger brother Mr. Kiyokata Furuno moved into the commer- cializing stage of the fishfinder. Through several trials he succeeded in assembling it for commercial use, until in May 1948 he achieved his objective of employing it for detecting fish schools in actual fishing. Eventually, the Furuno brothers embarked on a business of commercializing this fishfinder dedicatedly for detecting fish schools, and established Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. in December 1948.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The Furuno brothers’ business was faced with a number of obstacles, which they managed to conquer, as outlined below [8].

1. Obstacles to the business promotion for fishfinders

Just after the establishment of Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. the first obstacle falling on their business was fishermen’s poor knowledge on the fishfinder. Specifically, most fishermen had been used to the seat- of-the-pants operation so much that they were not acquainted enough with technical usage of fishfinders. For example, they could not distinguish strictly between the echo signals reflected from fish schools and the noises caused by the bubbling on the bottom-plate of a fishing boat. Hence, the Furuno brothers were foremost engaged in editing a booklet on the image inspection of fishes, and by making full use of this booklet they endeavored to inform fishermen how to utilize fishfinders for detecting fish schools in actual fishing.

2. Obstacles to the operation of fishfinders

The transmission property of a fishfinder in early stages was so sensitive that it inevitably suffered from different noises caused by the engine, pump, and fishing lamp as well as the bubbling on the surface of bottom-plate of a fishing boat. Especially, the noises due to the bubbling on the bottom-plate disturbed pictures on a fishfinder so violently that the Furuno brothers managed to stick a protruding vibrator into the bottom-plate to avoid the bubbling there.

3. Obstacles to the inboard settlement of fishfinders

Apart from the echo sounder intended for plumbing the sea by using reflected ultrasonic signals, the fishfinder was for detecting fish schools by means of much weaker reflected signals. Thus, the Furuno brothers investigated the intensities of the reflected signals used for plumbing the sea as well as those for detecting fish schools, until they found that as compared with the former, the latter could be caught by raising the amplification by 0-40dB, as can be seen from Fig. 2 [9]. Considering that the actual fishing necessitated the simultaneous detection of different sizes of fishes, the Furuno brothers managed to arrange for the inboard settlement of several fishfinders, each for a distinct size of fishes. In fact, Fig. 3 illustrates an existing inboard settlement of fishfinders provided in a bridge of fishing boat.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

There are a number of distinctive features in Furuno’s business on the fishfinder, as summarized in what follows. 1. Unique business start of the fishfinder

Just after the World War II, Mr. Kiyotaka Furuno happened to find an echo sounder among a pile of army- surplus commodities, which attracted greatly his interest, because unusually it was using ultrasonic waves. Furthermore, at that time he firmly believed that by improving the built-in amplifier of an echo sounder, a new device intended dedicatedly for detecting fish schools would be possibly constructed. Thus he endeavored to prototype a fishfinder by enhancing the ability of the built-in amplifier of an echo sounder. On the other hand, his younger brother Mr. Kiyokata Furuno managed to reform the prototyped fishfinder on a commercial basis, until in May 1948 he succeeded in attaining a new fishfinder to be employed for actual fishing. Eventually, by virtue of this fishfinder the Furuno brothers established Furuno Electric Co., Ltd. in December 1948.

2. Technical achievements to avoid different noises

The success of the Furuno brothers’ business on the fishfinder can he traced back to their original idea aiming at the introduction of ultrasonic technologies into the fishery industry. The remarkable break- through in accomplishing this fishfinder was attributed to the tenacious endeavors constantly made by the Furuno brothers. Their greatest achievement consisted in creating the fishfinder dedicatedly for detecting fish schools, avoiding different noises by the engine, pump, fishing lamp, bubbling on the bottom-plate surface, etc. of a fishing boat. Especially, the noises due to the bubbling on the boat bottom disturbed pictures on a fishfinder so seriously that the Furuno brothers made their especial endeavors to stick a protruding vibrator into the bottom-plate to escape from the bubbling there.

3. Functional extension of fishfinders

To cope with the steep ascent of business demands for fishfinders, the Furuno brothers had to develop further the detecting ability of the fishfinder especially in terms of its functional extension. Especially, the Furuno brothers paid attention to the following subjects; (i) how to develop man-machine interfaces for LCDs (liquid crystal displays) of fishfinders, (ii) how to devise a new apparatus of ‘scanning sonar’ which was intended for detecting fish schools acting horizontally in a wide range, and (iii) how to acquire characteristic information of fish lengths as well as sea-bottom soils by means of a high-resolution display shown in Fig. 4, until they succeeded in adding to the fishfinder a number of specific features of the ability and the quality of inspecting fishes in a wide range under or downward a fishing boat, as can be seen from the monitor panel of Fig. 3.

Finally, it should be noted that the usage of fishfinders was divided into two; one was industry-oriented, and the other leisure-oriented; for each of which the Furuno’s share had not been known, where, however, it should be added that as for the total of fishfinders the Furuno’s latest share in Japan turned out to be 63% as of 2019 [10], although Furuno Electric Co. Ltd. had been devoted mainly to the industry-oriented fishfinders.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.


Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to ieee-history@ieee.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.


Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to ieee-history@ieee.org with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).