A 300-thousand-user service started with bugging three
In 1986, when I was 23 years old, I joined a company called Toray Industries and was soon assigned to a joint venture with an American company called DuPont. At the time, most business communication was conducted using fax and word processing machines, but I had the opportunity to encounter the combination of computers and email. I was so excited to use the system. As an experiment, I even bought myself a word-processor, and connected it with a modem, so that I could communicate with my counterparts in America from my home.
My profession was to develop end-uses for a high performance fiber, but since it was originally developed and produced in the USA, I needed to communicate with the people there daily. Computers and email were a good combination since they allowed me to overcome the time zone differences and English writing difficulties. Word processing software with spell check was a great advantage by itself and it also enabled me to compose English sentences offline.
So I decided to bug the people around me; it started with three people including my boss. We were using Macintosh SE20 which an American guy had brought into the office. The word processing software and the VT-100 terminal emulator made it possible for us to compose emails offline, check spelling, and when ready, send all of the emails at once. I was happy to be an evangelist of the way.
Somehow, I wasn't content with having only three to bug. I expanded my campaign of enlightenment starting with my section and spreading throughout the office. I started asking the company to purchase second hand PC-AT compatible computers that ran on an English OS, then set them up to email using word processing software. New computers at the time such as Apple Macintosh had both Japanese and English capabilities, but were quite expensive. So I begged the company and got them, set them up to do the same, but this time, with Japanese capabilities. The number of computers I managed had increased to approximately 30 in two years.
Since I needed to travel a lot for my profession, I strongly wanted to enable myself to work remotely, on my way to and from destinations. So, newly introduced laptop computers became a good toy for me to carry around, even though they weighed about 5 kilograms; quite heavy.
In 1993, when I was 31 years old, I went to the USA to attend an MBA course, and there also, I was like a system administrator for my Japanese classmates who needed to have their computers set up. I suggested which computers to purchase and helped them set up so that they could be used both on English and Japanese OS environments. It was when the Internet had just started being used in some universities. I was quite stimulated and excited when I successfully obtained data stored on servers in Japan, for free, using the school Internet connection.
In 1995, when I was 33 years old, I started working at a plant in Nagoya, Japan. From there, again, I started to travel a lot for business. A mighty little PC, from Toshiba called Libretto, became my main tool for business communication. That was when, email had become an official communication tool in enterprises, including the company I worked for, so I helped the system administrators by voluntarily bugging the people around me.
In 1999, when I was 36 years old, I encountered i-mode from NTT Docomo. i-mode was a whole new system that enabled cellphones to be connected with the Internet. Even with little gray LCDs, we got access to desired information from anywhere. It was a shocking experience for me to know how convenient the system was. So I felt a strong urge to make my email accessible from those little new cellphones.
In 2000, when I was 37, I founded e-Jan and developed several systems to enable email communication using i-mode cellphones. From 2003, we started selling CACHATTO, and by this year, 2015, the number of users has exceeded 300,000, although ironically I got a bit older. The devices we used have expanded from cellphones to personal computers, smartphones, and tablets. I know they will keep evolving and we will use new and different systems, but what I want to accomplish hasn't changed at all. In search for better communication methods, the bugging of three has now increased to a magnitude of 100,000, and it will continue...