Zebra Pen Corporation was founded in New York in August 1982 as an independent corporation wholly owned by Zebra Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, Japan. The Zebra trademark was adopted in 1914. It is said that Mr. Ishikawa, founder of Zebra Co. Ltd., wanted a company name that would be memorable and appropriate for their export business to other countries. He took an English/Japanese dictionary and, opening it Japanese style from the back, started with the “Z” words. He stopped at “Zebra”.
Upon further research, Mr. Ishikawa found that zebras are gentle animals with a strong family herding instinct. This was an important attribute since he wanted to build a business in which employees and customers were all part of a family-like culture. The fact that the zebra looks like it is decorated with large calligraphic pen strokes may have also appealed to the visual image he was seeking.