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Sharp Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that designs and manufactures electronic products. Headquartered in Abeno-ku, Osaka, Japan, Sharp employs more than 54,144 people worldwide as of October 31, 2009. The company was founded in September 1912. It takes its name from one of its founder's first inventions, the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil, which was invented by Tokuji Hayakawa in 1915. Since then it has developed into one of the leading electronics companies in the world. As a semiconductor maker, Sharp is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders and among the Top 100 R&D Spenders in a list published by IEEE Spectrum magazine. It gained public awareness in the United Kingdom when it sponsored Manchester United F.C. from 1982 to 2000, which was a period of great success for the club.
They took a controlling stake in Pioneer Corporation in 2007. On 25 June 2009, they agreed to form a joint venture with Pioneer on their optical business to be called "Pioneer Digital Design and Manufacturing Corporation".