Canon Inc. (originally Precision Optical Instruments) is one of the largest and best makers of cameras worldwide.
With the initial goal of providing domestic Japanese competition to German-made camera equipment in 1933, Goro Yoshida developed and produced a prototype 35mm Camera which he named the "Kwanon" after a Buddhist Bodhisattva (Avalokiteshvara). Yoshida's brother-in-law, Saburu Uchida wanted a more high-class name for the camera, so the two decided on the name "Canon" and applied for the trademark, which they were granted in 1935.
In subsequent years, thriving on the success of the original "Hansa Canon" 35mm camera, the company grew, relocated to larger offices, and began in-house production of components (previously they outsourced for components). The company developed Japan's first domestic indirect X-ray camera in 1940. In 1942, Takeshi Mitarai took the helm as president of the company but was forced to suspend operation of the company in 1945 due to wartime situations.
After the war Mitarai began to rebuild the company and in 1947 it changed its name to Canon Camera Co. in order to appeal to occupant soldiers who showed an interest in the cameras. In 1955, the company, which had grown a great deal in Japan over the past 8 years, opened an American branch in New York. Canon changed its US branch to an affiliated company by the name of Canon U.S.A. Inc. in 1966.
Sales of office equipment as well as camera equipment were booming in the US with the release of 8mm cinecameras and projectors as well as the "L" series 35mm camera, "Canonet" automatic exposure camera, and "Canola" 10 key electronic calculator. During this time Canon also spent a great deal of time and money researching lens production in an attempt to perfect high resolution lenses. In 1969, the company again changed its name to "Canon Inc."
In 1971, Canon released its Single Lens Reflex Camera, the "F-1" 35mm. This was followed by numerous developments in the microprocessing and laser printing areas. In 1976, Canon released the "AE-1" (Auto Exposure #1) 35mm SLR Camera. This camera was the first in the world to use an embedded microprocessor to operate various subsystems. This camera won numerous awards in subsequent years. In 1979, Canon released the "SureShot" or "Autoboy" auto-focus camera. This camera won numerous awards as well.
In 1987, Canon released the "EOS650" SLR Auto-Focus camera in order to compete with Minolta, who took the lead in the marketplace two years earlier with its SLR Auto-Focus camera.
Canon has continued to be absolutely the best damn 35mm SLR camera you can get. Sure, some people swear by Minolta and other brands, but Canon has had the best equipment since mid-20th century and to this date has by far the best 35mm camera lenses you can get.
There are a huge number of cameras that were created and sold by Canon listed here.
Those listed above are merely the exemplary models; those which brought the company much deserved fame and fortune. Other camera models were primarily spinoffs of those models with added or altered features.
Canon Inc. website, http://www.canon.com/