Philips & Co. was founded in 1891 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to meet the growing demand for light bulbs that arose in the wake of the industrial introduction of electricity. The Philips family, which was destined to found a “corporation in its own name,” was quite successful in business even before that significant year of 1891. Although “successfully” is an understatement: the Philips managed to earn a truly gigantic fortune in the tobacco trade and production of tobacco products. Frederick Phillips, one of the many scions of a successful family and the father of the future founders of a world-famous corporation, in his old age carried out financial transactions on such a scale that both Donald Trump and Rockefeller himself would envy him. He owned huge estates, actively traded his products with the whole world, and at the same time did not forget to follow technical progress – thanks to the timely investment of money in the purchase of an American patent, Philips was the first in the Netherlands to make the cigar production process fully automatic.
In the early days of Philips & Co. the name of the company was written in various ways: first it was an emblem formed by the initial letters of the name Philips & Co., and then the inscription Philips on the glass shell of an incandescent lamp. Therefore, it is not surprising that Philips’s eldest son, Gerard Leonard Frederick Philips (by the way, on his mother’s side he was a cousin brother of that same Karl Marx), after school he began to study engineering and design, and upon graduation received a diploma in mechanical engineering. At the same time, he began to become interested in electric incandescent lamps – and no wonder: in the 80s of the 19th century, the world noisily discussed the invention of Thomas Edison’s invention of a light bulb with a carbon fiber filament, the lifespan of which was 40 hours. Together with his friend Ian Reese, Gerard began conducting experiments to develop his own technology for the production of incandescent lamps, and the result was not long in coming. True, the light bulb did not work for long: the filament made of cellulose treated in zinc chloride burned out almost instantly. The inventors had to tinker with improving their unfortunate product for another couple of years before their light bulb became more or less viable. It’s time to decide what to do next – continue experiments for your own pleasure or start selling the product.
After consulting, the friends decided that it still made sense to take a risk and open their own factory, but when it came to resolving financial issues – who should invest in production and how much – Reese decided to abandon the dubious idea and left the business. That’s when it came in handy help from Phillips Sr. With his money and under his strict financial leadership, a small building was purchased in the Dutch town of Eindhoven in 1891, which housed three dynamos, a vacuum pump and other necessary equipment. At first, things at the factory were quite modest – ten workers produced there are about 100-200 lamps per day, so one couldn’t even dream of gigantic profits. However, there was a sound grain in the idea of a miniature company – all European manufacturers in those years were “under the hood” of German companies. AEG was the leader in the production and sales of electric lamps, which constantly reduced prices for its products, which, of course, could have a negative impact on the affairs of the newborn company.
Philips Bakelite 122d (1951)
Fortunately, Gerard Philips managed to establish his product sales channels – and, as often happens, everything was decided by personal connections and acquaintances. Even after graduating from university, Phillips traveled quite a lot around Europe, did business in London and Berlin, and even managed to work for AEG (who knew that in a few years the former employer would become the most terrible competitor!). So the first large batch of light bulbs was sold through former business partners, and after three years, sales increased sevenfold – from 11,000 to 75,000 units.
Philips 851 (1967)
But even these successes did not make the business profitable: due to small production volumes, the cost of production was very high, and therefore it could not cost less than AEG products. In 1894, the situation became so difficult that the family council even decided to sell the company, but… the only buyer offered such a low price that the offended Philips decided to keep the business and prove to the whole world that they could achieve their goal. It was decided to increase the company’s authorized capital and expand production. In addition, a new strategy for the company was determined – it was necessary to enter the global sales market, and not limit the development of the company only to Holland. It was decided to entrust global expansion to Anton Frederick Philips, the youngest son of Frederick Philips. Despite his young age (by the time he started working in the family company, Anton was barely 21 years old), Phillips Jr. was quickly able to prove that his father was not mistaken in offering him the position: already in 1898, the company surpassed the mark of one million light bulbs sold. The brothers even made a kind of bet on who would overtake whom: Gerard tried to produce more light bulbs than Anton was able to sell, and the younger brother showed empty warehouses and demanded to produce more and more.
Philips EL 3585 (1964)
Arriving in St. Petersburg, Anton Philips found himself, as they say, from a ship to a ball: barely having time to clean himself up in a modest hotel, not knowing the language and having no connections at court, he went to the holy of holies – the imperial palace. Even the most thoughtful and pedantic researchers of the history of Philips cannot explain what happened in St. Petersburg then. It’s hard to say how this 24-year-old Dutchman, co-owner of a basically tiny factory in a godforsaken town, managed to conclude contracts for the sale of half of the goods that the company produced during the year. Most likely, the personal qualities of Anton Philips played an important role – he knew how to please people, easily found a common language with them, easily convinced and even seemed to bewitch with his speech. Otherwise, how else could he have managed to beat the German suppliers by a head in this final race, backed by huge authorized capital and well-functioning production?
Philips Helmet TV (1980)
Among other things, he even managed to negotiate the supply of 50,000 so-called “candle lamps” for the candelabra of the Winter Palace (the same Hermitage). When Anton sent his brother a telegram with a report on his affairs, Gerard did not believe it at first: “Fifty thousand? To Gerard’s perplexed message, Anton replied: “Everything is correct. Fifty thousand, funfzig Tauzend, cinquante mille.” The figure repeated three times in three different languages convinced the older brother, and he, without waiting for Anton’s return, began to expand production.
Philips Beatiful TV (1972)
And this turned out to be a very timely move. One of the first advertising campaigns was launched in 1898, when Anton Philips used postcards depicting traditional Dutch costumes as a marketing tool. Each letter of the Philips name was printed surrounded by light bulbs at the top of each card. In the late 1920s, the spelling of the name Philips began to take the form we know today.
Philips 22 GF Portable Record Player (1980)
Philips’ famous waves and stars first appeared in 1926 on the packaging of low voltage radio tubes, as well as on one of the first Philigraph sound recording devices. The waves represented radio waves, and the stars symbolized the ether of the evening sky, through which radio signals are transmitted. In 1930, four stars and three waves were placed in a circle for the first time. After this, stars and waves began to appear on radios and gramophones inscribed in a circle, which became an integral part of the sign. Gradually, the circle emblem began to appear on advertising materials and other products.
Philips D8444 (1982)
At the time, Philips was experiencing a period of rapid development, and it wanted to create a trademark that would uniquely represent Philips, but would not lead to legal disputes with the owners of other well-known marks that have a round shape. This desire led to the combination of the Philips circle and the wordmark into a shield emblem. In 1938, the Philips shield was first presented to the public. The basic design, although it has undergone some changes over time, remains essentially the same and, together with the wordmark, continues to give Philips its unique identity today.
Philips Roller Radio (1987)
Until 1971, the concern was led by members of the Philips family, the last of whom was Frederick Philips (son of Anton). Frederick joined the company’s management at the age of 25, and during World War II he was arrested for his unwillingness to cooperate with the German occupiers. In the post-war period, his business development policies transformed the family enterprise into a leading global company. In 1999, in the Netherlands, brothers Anton and Gerard Philips were posthumously awarded the title of “Best Entrepreneurs of the 20th Century”. In November 2013, Philips unveiled a new brand positioning strategy that builds on the company’s rich heritage of innovation. Part of the new approach was the slogan “Innovation & You”. It represents a commitment to creating meaningful innovations that improve people’s quality of life and meet their needs and expectations. The new slogan clearly echoes the very first Philips motto “Numbers are important, but people are more important” and proves that for more than a century the company has been following the main principle of putting people and their real needs first.
The evolution of Philips logos
The world famous Philips logo – the shield with stars – has also undergone some changes. Initially, the image illustrated the possibility of bringing people from different continents and countries closer together thanks to the innovative radio broadcasting technology of that time. Today, this emblem continues to be a symbol of innovation and customer confidence. Its visual image has only been updated in accordance with the requirements of the modern digital world. The main developments of Philips in the field of consumer electronics in the twentieth century: The first radio receiver The first Philips radio receiver appeared in 1927 and in appearance the speaker resembled a gramophone. He worked on short waves. By 1933, Philips had become the largest manufacturer of radios and tubes in the world. In 1938, the company created the Chapel model, which was much closer to modern ideas about a consumer radio.
The first television In 1925, Philips NatLab succeeded in reproducing the first television signals, and in 1928 the company introduced the first television showing a 48-line picture on a small screen. Philips begins television broadcasting from the city of Eindhoven in 1946.
Philishave electric razor The creator of the Philishave electric razor was the outstanding Philips engineer Alexander Horowitz, who developed it in 1939. At that time, electric shavers were already being produced in America, and Horowitz got the idea to create a more advanced version. As a result, the scientist developed a rotary model. Until now, a razor with rotating blades is the most popular shaving technique. It has become one of the most popular products in the history of Philips.
Compact Cassette The compact tape cassette became the standard for decades. After the successful presentation of the new product in 1963, Philips granted the right to use the license free of charge to other manufacturers, subject to compliance with technical standards. The calculation turned out to be correct and allowed the company to oust solutions from competing manufacturers from the market; the compact cassette soon became the most popular media in the world.
Portable cassette recorder Following the introduction of the compact cassette in 1963, Philips introduced the world’s first cassette recorder in 1966.
The first home VCR In 1972, Philips released the first VCR for home use in England.
Compact Disc In the early 1970s, Philips NatLab developed the first laser disc. This system made it possible to record analog video onto media. Based on this discovery, researchers began developments in the field of recording digital audio information on disk. In 1977, the first CD prototype was created. A more advanced form of compact disc was developed thanks to the combined efforts of Philips and Sony. A new CD was introduced in 1980.
DVD The digital multi-purpose disc DVD has become the fastest-growing product in the history of electronic devices.
Philips company history milestones
1918 – the first Philips X-ray tube was produced. 1927 – The first Philips radio was released, and in the next five years over a million units were sold. 1939 – The first Philips electric razor was launched. The company has a staff of 45,000 people. 1940-1950 – the revolutionary Philishave razor with rotating heads was developed. 1963 – Philips develops the compact audio cassette. 1964 – Philips introduces the first mass-produced television to the market. 1965 – The first Philips integrated circuits are created. 1970s – Philips makes breakthroughs in processing, storing and transmitting images, sound and data. Work is actively underway on Laser Vision optical disc, compact disc and optical telecommunications systems. 1972 – Philips founded PolyGram, a successful record company that later acquired Magnavox and Signetic in the US. 1980s – Philips acquires Sylvania’s television division and Westinghouse’s lamp business. 1983 – technological breakthrough: Philips, together with Sony, introduces the compact disc to the market. 1984 – The 100 millionth Philips TV is produced. 1995 – The 300 millionth Philishave electric razor is produced. 1990s – Philips introduces DVD, which is destined to become the fastest growing consumer electronics category in human history. 1997 – Philips introduces the first flat-screen TV. 2004 – a new stage in the development of Philips. The company is undergoing structural changes within the framework of the new concept “Smart and Simple”. 2006 – Philips Philips begins selling a 3D scanner. 2008 – Philips Philips offers new products in the field of healthcare – respiratory technologies. 2009 – Philips launches the world’s first Cinema 21:9 TV. 2010 – Philips LifeLine home health system marks a new stage in patient care at a distance. Also this year, the company is changing its approach to hair removal with the invention of the Lumea photoepilator, which has become a bestseller in many countries. 2011 – Philips Philips introduces the LED equivalent of the 75-watt incandescent lamp, and developments in the field of positron emission tomography (PET), which visualizes the vital processes of organs and tissues at the molecular level, lead to the release of a universal system for whole-body diagnostics, combining technologies for the first time PET and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
2012 – Philips introduced the development of “Philips Hue” – ZigBee-controlled LED lamps. The system can reproduce all shades of white, from warm to cool, and the full spectrum of colors, and consumes 80% less than an incandescent lamp. 2015 – Philips introduced the Hue Wireless Dimming Kit, a smart lighting system that allows you to remotely create the desired atmosphere in your home. 2015 – Philips at IFA, as part of the update to the Hue line, Philips introduced LightStrips Plus, a “smart” LED strip up to 10 meters long.