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The foundation for what would become one of the world's biggest electronics companies was laid on May 15, 1891 when Frederik
Philips (tobacco merchant, manufacturer and banker) and his son Gerard (mechanical engineer) signed an agreement starting their company Philips & Co. It was founded with the aim to "manufacture light bulbs and other electro-technical products". Eindhoven was selected as the companies’ domicile and for a relatively small amount of money a suitable empty factory building was purchased. Already
in 1895 a start was made with international marketing. The younger brother Anton
began to travel around Europe to sell incandescent bulbs. In 1900, Philips has been one of the largest producers of carbon-filament lamps of the European continent. In the early twentieth century in various countries representative offices were set up. Due to the rapidly increasing employment Philips affected the environment of Eindhoven more and more. The company was known for his good social
services. On August 29, 1912, NV Philips light bulb factory was established whose shares were placed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.
lamps and radios
Before the First World War Philips had already set up sales companies in the United States and France. When the supply of gas and glass for the bulbs stagnated due to the First World War, Philips founded its own supplying companies and also began setting up its own foreign production- and sales organisations. In the twenties of the last century, the number of such sales
companies increased explosively. The development of new lighting techniques drove the continuing growth of the company. In order to promote product innovation even further, Gerard Philips founded the Physics Laboratory (NatLab) in 1914. It became the cradle of many new technologies. In the NatLab for example, the development of X-ray tubes and radio tubes was started, the foundation of the later divisions Medical Systems and Consumer Electronics. It was the first step towards product diversification. In 1918, Philips first
electron tube radio and a medical X-ray tube was launched to the market. In 1925 Philips played an active role in the first experiments in television. The company started producing radios in 1927 and by the year 1932 it had sold one million of them. A year later, Philips had produced 100 million vacuum tubes. From 1926 on Philips brings various sodium- and mercury vapour lamps on the market. From 1937 on the latter forms the to the Biosol sun-lamp line. In 1945, the first Ultraphil sun-lamps based on blended lamps were launched. Research
starting in 1927 to the production of vitamin D with help of mercury vapour discharge lamps leaded Philips towards the pharmaceutical industry. This finally resulted in the foundation of Philip-Duphar NV in 1959.
Partly because of the advanced stage of internationalisation Philips survived the Second World War relatively unharmed. Then - especially in the fifties - the company benefited greatly from the
huge increase in welfare. Radios, televisions, shavers and refrigerators were sold in the millions. The range of activities and products spread further and further - small household appliances, radar systems, telephone exchanges, computers, VCRs, and so on. It was also the basis for future groundbreaking work on transistors and integrated circuits.
Based on the in 1940 developed light bulb with internal reflector Philips started in 1946 with the production and sale of Infraphil heat lamps. In 1948, the first Philips fluorescent tubes arose on the market.
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Philips has many new inventions to her credit: various types of discharge lamps, the halogen lamp, the compact cassette tape
(1963) and the videotape (1972). Philips also made a major contribution to the development of the recording, transmission and display of television images. Philips' research activities in the field of lighting contributed to the development of the new PL and SL energy-saving lamps. Philips was also responsible for major breakthroughs in
the processing, storage and transmission of images, sound and data, which led to the invention of the CD or Compact Disc (1983) and the Video-CD (1987).
In 1983, the lamps business of Westinghouse was taken over. In 1984 Philips reached the production number of 100 million TV sets and in 1995 the production number of 300 million Philishave electric shavers. Philishave was one of the most successful brands based on the name Philips. From 1990 Philips started a major restructuring program and the name changed via Philips Electronics
NV in 1994 to Royal Philips Electronics NV in 1998. From the turning of the century Philips focused increasingly on its core businesses Light, Consumer Products and Healthcare. Today, Philips is a leader in the digital revolution and it brings world-class products on the market aimed to improve the quality of life in the new millennium.
From the early 1940s, Philco, a pioneer in early battery, radio, and television production in the USA, was legally able to prevent Philips from using the name "Philips" on any products marketed in the USA, because the two names were judged to sound similar. As
a result, Philips instead used the name Norelco, an acronym for "North American Philips (Electrical) Company." Philips continued to use that name for all their US products until 1974, when Philips purchased The Magnavox Company. Philips then relabelled their US consumer electronics products to the Magnavox name, but retained the Norelco name for
their other US products. When Philips bought Philco in 1981, Philips was able to freely use the Philips name for all of their US products, but they chose to retain the Norelco name for personal care appliances and the Magnavox name for economy-priced consumer electronics. To improve Philips brand recognition in the USA, Philips began branding their shavers "Philips Norelco" in 2005. The Philips Norelco co-branding might allow for an eventual phase out of the Norelco name in favour of the Philips name.