The company was founded in 1946 by Minoru Yoneyama as a producer of wooden floats for fishing net. The company was later forced out of this market because of the invention of plastic floats. This led to a commitment by Yoneyama to never again be left behind by technological advancements.
In 1957, Yoneyama began to make badminton racquets for other brands. By 1961, the first Yoneyama-branded racquet was introduced, and within another two years an export company was created for the worldwide distribution. After the company began to make aluminium badminton racquets in 1969, it found that the same technology could be applied to the tennis racquet which the company introduced in 1971. The company began to experiment with graphite shafts for both types of racquets and found that these would also be useful for golf clubs.
Finding a growing market, the Yonex Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary) was established in Torrance California in July 1983. In 1992 Yonex introduced the widebody badminton racquet, the "Isometric 500", a racquet that was much less "tear drop"-shaped than previous ones. The more "square" head gave it a much larger striking surface, which provides a larger "sweet spot" to hit the shuttle. It led other manufacturers to follow suit in "square-head" or isometric designs.
The parent company was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1994. Despite its shrinking market share in badminton, Yonex remains the biggest badminton company in the world. Yonex provides clothing for national badminton associations around the world, such as the Malaysian Badminton Association, Badminton Scotland, Badminton England, Badminton Ireland, and Badminton Wales.
Yonex has managed to become the dominant Corporate player in badminton. Yonex sponsors the All England Open Championship and is a partner of the Badminton world federation which organizes the World Championship. Upwards of 80% of competitive players use their racquets, as it is the preferred choice amongst professionals. Yonex is significant in both the tennis and golf industry and is a major sponsor of Professional athletes in all three sports.