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The Philips Company was founded in 1891 by Gerard Philips and
his father Frederik. Frederik, a banker based in Zaltbommel, financed the
purchase and setup of a modest, empty factory building in Eindhoven, where
the company started the production of carbon-filament lamps and other
electro-technical products in 1892. This first factory has been adapted and
is used as a museum.
In 1895, after a difficult first few years and near bankruptcy, the
Philipses brought in Anton, Gerard's younger brother by sixteen years.
Though he had earned a degree in engineering, Anton started work as a sales
representative; soon, however, he began to contribute many important
business ideas. With Anton's arrival, the family business began to expand
rapidly, resulting in the founding of Philips Metaalgloeilampfabriek N.V.
(Philips Metal Filament Lamp Factory Ltd.) in Eindhoven in 1907, followed in
1912 by the foundation of Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken N.V. (Philips
Lightbulb Factories Ltd.). After Gerard and Anton Philips changed their
family business by founding the Philips corporation, they laid the
foundations for the later electronics multinational.
In the 1920s, the company started to manufacture other products, such as
vacuum tubes. In 1939 they introduced their electric razor, the Philishave
(marketed in the USA using the Norelco brand name). The "Chapel" is a radio
with built-in loudspeaker, which was designed during the early 1930s.
Curved, triangular radio with brown wooden cabinet
Philips chapel radio model 930A, 1931
On 11 March 1927 Philips went on the air with shortwave radio station PCJJ
(later PCJ) which was joined in 1929 by sister station PHOHI (Philips Omroep
Holland-Indië). PHOHI broadcast in Dutch to the Dutch East Indies (now
Indonesia) while PCJJ broadcast in English, Spanish and German to the rest
of the world.
The international program on Sundays commenced in 1928, with host Eddie
Startz hosting the Happy Station show, which became the world's
longest-running shortwave program. Broadcasts from the Netherlands were
interrupted by the German invasion in May 1940. The Germans commandeered the
transmitters in Huizen to use for pro-Nazi broadcasts, some originating from
Germany, others concerts from Dutch broadcasters under German control.
Philips Radio was absorbed shortly after liberation when its two shortwave
stations were nationalised in 1947 and renamed Radio Netherlands Worldwide,
the Dutch International Service. Some PCJ programs, such as Happy Station,
continued on the new station.
Philips was instrumental in the revival of the Stirling engine when, in the
early 1930s, the management decided that offering a low-power portable
generator would assist in expanding sales of its radios into parts of the
world where mains electricity was unavailable and the supply of batteries
uncertain. Engineers at the company's research lab carried out a systematic
comparison of various power sources and determined that the almost forgotten
Stirling engine would be most suitable, citing its quiet operation (both
audibly and in terms of radio interference) and ability to run on a variety
of heat sources (common lamp oil – "cheap and available everywhere" – was
favoured). They were also aware that, unlike steam and internal combustion
engines, virtually no serious development work had been carried out on the
Stirling engine for many years and asserted that modern materials and
know-how should enable great improvements.
Encouraged by their first experimental engine, which produced 16 W of shaft
power from a bore and stroke of 30 mm × 25 mm, various development models
were produced in a programme which continued throughout World War II. By the
late 1940s the 'Type 10' was ready to be handed over to Philips' subsidiary
Johan de Witt in Dordrecht to be productionised and incorporated into a
generator set as originally planned. The result, rated at 180/200 W
electrical output from a bore and stroke of 55 mm x 27 mm, was designated
MP1002CA (known as the "Bungalow set"). Production of an initial batch of
250 began in 1951, but it became clear that they could not be made at a
competitive price, besides which the advent of transistor radios with their
much lower power requirements meant that the original rationale for the set
was disappearing. Approximately 150 of these sets were eventually produced.
In parallel with the generator set Philips developed experimental Stirling
engines for a wide variety of applications and continued to work in the
field until the late 1970s, though the only commercial success was the
'reversed Stirling engine' cryocooler. However, they filed a large number of
patents and amassed a wealth of information, which they later licensed to
World War II
On 9 May 1940, the Philips directors learned that the German invasion of the
Netherlands was to take place the following day. Having prepared for this,
Anton Philips and his son in law Frans Otten, as well as other Philips
family members, fled to the United States, taking a large amount of the
company capital with them. Operating from the U.S. as the North American
Philips Company, they managed to run the company throughout the war. At the
same time, the company was moved (on paper) to the Netherlands Antilles to
keep it out of American hands.
Frits Philips, the son of Anton, was the only Philips family member to stay
in the Netherlands. He saved the lives of 382 Jews by convincing the Nazis
that they were indispensable for the production process at Philips. In 1943
he was held at the internment camp for political prisoners at Vught for
several months because a strike at his factory reduced production. For his
actions in saving the hundreds of Jews, he was recognized by Yad Vashem in
1995 as a "Righteous Among the Nations".
1945 to 2001
After the war the company was moved back to the Netherlands, with their
headquarters in Eindhoven. Many secret research facilities had been locked
and successfully hidden from the invaders, which allowed the company to get
up to speed again quickly after the war.
The Philips Light Tower in Eindhoven, originally a light bulb factory and
later the company headquarters
In 1949, the company began selling television sets. In 1950, it formed
Philips introduced the audio Compact Audio Cassette tape in 1963, and it was
wildly successful. Compact cassettes were initially used for dictation
machines for office typing stenographers and professional journalists. As
their sound quality improved, cassettes would also be used to record sound
and became the second mass media alongside vinyl records used to sell
Philips introduced the first combination portable radio and cassette
recorder, which was marketed as the "radiorecorder", and is now better known
as the boom box. Later, the cassette was used in telephone answering
machines, including a special form of cassette where the tape was wound on
an endless loop. The C-cassette was used as the first mass storage device
for early personal computers in the 1970s and 1980s. Philips reduced the
cassette size for the professional needs with the Mini-Cassette, although it
would not be as successful as the Olympus Microcassette. This became the
predominant dictation medium up to the advent of fully digital dictation
In 1972 Philips launched the world's first home video cassette recorder, in
the UK, the N1500. Its relatively bulky video cassettes could record 30
minutes or 45 minutes. Later one-hour tapes were also offered. As
competition came from Sony's Betamax and the VHS group of manufacturers,
Philips introduced the N1700 system which allowed double-length recording.
For the first time, a 2-hour movie could fit onto one video cassette. In
1977, the company unveiled a special promotional film for this system in the
UK, featuring comedian Denis Norden. The concept was quickly copied by the
Japanese makers, whose tapes were significantly cheaper. Philips made one
last attempt at a new standard for video recorders with the Video 2000
system, with tapes that could be used on both sides and had 8 hours of total
recording time. As Philips only sold its systems on the PAL standard and in
Europe, and the Japanese makers sold globally, the scale advantages of the
Japanese proved insurmountable and Philips withdrew the V2000 system and
joined the VHS Coalition.
Philips had developed a LaserDisc early on for selling movies, but delayed
its commercial launch for fear of cannibalizing its video recorder sales.
Later Philips joined with MCA to launch the first commercial LaserDisc
standard and players. In 1982, Philips teamed with Sony to launch the
Compact Disc; this format evolved into the CD-R, CD-RW, DVD and later Blu-ray,
which Philips launched with Sony in 1997 and 2006 respectively.
In 1984, Philips split off its activities on the field of photolithographic
integrated circuit production equipment, the so-called wafer steppers, into
a joint venture with ASM International, located in Veldhoven under the name
ASML. Over the years, this new company has evolved into the world's leading
manufacturer of chip production machines at the expense of competitors like
Nikon and Canon.
In 1991, the company's name was changed from N.V. Philips
Gloeilampenfabrieken to Philips Electronics N.V. At the same time, North
American Philips was formally dissolved, and a new corporate division was
formed in the U.S. with the name Philips Electronics North America Corp.
In 1997 the company officers decided to move the headquarters from Eindhoven
to Amsterdam along with the corporate name change to Koninklijke Philips
Electronics N.V. The move was completed in 2001. Initially, the company was
housed in the Rembrandt Tower, but in 2002 they moved again, this time to
the Breitner Tower. Philips Lighting, Philips Research, Philips
Semiconductors (spun off as NXP in September 2006) and Philips Design, are
still based in Eindhoven. Philips Healthcare is headquartered in both Best,
Netherlands (near Eindhoven) and Andover, Massachusetts, United States (near
In 2000, Philips bought Optiva Corporation, the maker of Sonicare electric
toothbrushes. The company was renamed Philips Oral Healthcare and made a
subsidiary of Philips DAP.
2001 to 2011
In 2004, Philips abandoned the slogan "Let's make things better" in favour
of a new one: "Sense and simplicity".
In December 2005 Philips announced its intention to sell or demerge its
semiconductor division. On 1 September 2006, it was announced in Berlin that
the name of the new company formed by the division would be NXP
Semiconductors. On 2 August 2006, Philips completed an agreement to sell a
controlling 80.1% stake in NXP Semiconductors to a consortium of private
equity investors consisting of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), Silver
Lake Partners and AlpInvest Partners. On 21 August 2006, Bain Capital and
Apax Partners announced that they had signed definitive commitments to join
the acquiring consortium, a process which was completed on 1 October 2006.
In 2006 Philips bought out the company Lifeline Systems headquartered in
In August 2007 Philips acquired the company Ximis, Inc. headquartered in El
Paso, Texas for their Medical Informatics Division. In October 2007, it
purchased a Moore Microprocessor Patent (MPP) Portfolio license from The TPL
On 21 December 2007 Philips and Respironics, Inc. announced a definitive
agreement pursuant to which Philips acquired all of the outstanding shares
of Respironics for US$66 per share, or a total purchase price of
approximately €3.6 billion (US$5.1 billion) in cash.
On 21 February 2008 Philips completed the acquisition of VISICU Baltimore,
Maryland through the merger of its indirect wholly owned subsidiary into
VISICU. As a result of that merger, VISICU has become an indirect wholly
owned subsidiary of Philips. VISICU was the creator of the eICU concept of
the use of Telemedicine from a centralized facility to monitor and care for
The Philips physics laboratory was scaled down in the early 21st century, as
the company ceased trying to be innovative in consumer electronics through
2011 to present
In January 2011 Philips agreed to acquire the assets of Preethi, a leading
India-based kitchen appliances company.
Because net profit slumped 85 percent in Q3 2011, Philips announced a cut of
4,500 jobs to match part of an €800 million ($1.1 billion) cost-cutting
scheme to boost profits and meet its financial target.
In March 2012 Philips announced its intention to sell, or demerge its
television manufacturing operations to TPV Technology.
In 2011, the company posted a loss of €1.3 billion, but earned a net profit
in Q1 and Q2 2012, however the management wanted €1.1 billion cost-cutting
which was an increase from €800 million and may cut another 2,200 jobs until
end of 2014.
On 5 December 2012, the antitrust regulators of the European Union fined
Philips and several other major companies for fixing prices of TV
cathode-ray tubes in two cartels lasting nearly a decade.
On 29 January 2013, it was announced that Philips had agreed to sell its
audio and video operations to the Japan-based Funai Electric for €150
million, with the audio business planned to transfer to Funai in the latter
half of 2013, and the video business in 2017. As part of the transaction,
Funai paid a regular licensing fee to Philips for the use of the Philips
brand. The purchase agreement was terminated by Philips in October because
of breach of contract.
In April 2013, Philips announced a collaboration with Paradox Engineering
for the realization and implementation of a “pilot project” on
network-connected street-lighting management solutions. This project was
endorsed by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).
In 2013, Philips omitted the word "Electronics" from its name, which is now
Royal Philips N.V.
On 13 November 2013 Philips unveiled its new brand line “Innovation and You”
and a new design of its shield mark. The new brand positioning is cited by
Philips to signify company’s evolution and emphasize that innovation is only
meaningful if it is based on an understanding of people’s needs and desires.
On 28 April 2014 Philips agreed to sell their Woox Innovations subsidiary
(consumer electronics) to Gibson Brands for $US135 million.
On 23 September 2014, Philips announced a plan to split the company into
two, separating the lighting business from the healthcare and consumer
lifestyle divisions. it moved to complete this in March 2015 to an
investment group for $3.3 billion
In February 2015, Philips acquired Volcano Corporation to strengthen its
position in non-invasive surgery and imaging.
Past and present CEOs:
1891–1922: Gerard Philips
1922–1939: Anton Philips
1939–1961: Frans Otten
1961–1971: Frits Philips
1971–1977: Henk van Riemsdijk
1977–1981: Nico Rodenburg
1982–1986: Wisse Dekker
1986–1990: Cornelis Van der Klugt
1990–1996: Jan Timmer
1996–2001: Cor Boonstra
2001–2011: Gerard Kleisterlee
2011–now: Frans van Houten
Companies acquired by Philips through the years include Amperex, Magnavox,
Signetics, Mullard, VLSI, Agilent Healthcare Solutions Group, Marconi
Medical Systems, ADAC Laboratories, ATL Ultrasound, portions of Westinghouse
and the consumer electronics operations of Philco and Sylvania. Philips
abandoned the Sylvania trademark which is now owned by Havells Sylvania
except in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and the USA
where it is owned by Osram. Formed in November 1999 as an equal joint
venture between Philips and Agilent Technologies, the light-emitting diode
manufacturer Lumileds became a subsidiary of Phillips Lighting in August
2005 and a fully owned subsidiary in December 2006. An 80.1 percent stake in
Lumileds was sold to Go Scale in early 2015.
On 20 January 2006, Philips Electronics NV said it would buy Lifeline
Systems Inc in a deal valued at $750 million, its biggest move yet to expand
its consumer-health business (M).
Philips is registered in the Netherlands as a naamloze vennootschap and has
its world headquarters in Amsterdam. At the end of 2013 Philips had 111
manufacturing facilities, 59 R&D Facilities across 26 countries and sales
and service operations in around 100 countries.
Philips is organized into three main divisions: Philips Consumer Lifestyle
(formerly Philips Consumer Electronics and Philips Domestic Appliances and
Personal Care), Philips Healthcare (formerly Philips Medical Systems) and
Philips Lighting. Philips achieved total revenues of €22.579 billion in
2011, of which €8.852 billion were generated by Philips Healthcare, €7.638
billion by Philips Lighting, €5.823 billion by Philips Consumer Lifestyle
and €266 million from group activities. At the end of 2011 Philips had a
total of 121,888 employees, of whom around 44% were employed in Philips
Lighting, 31% in Philips Healthcare and 15% in Philips Consumer Lifestyle.
Philips invested a total of €1.61 billion in research and development in
2011, equivalent to 7.1% of sales. Philips Intellectual Property and
Standards is the group-wide division responsible for licensing, trademark
protection and patenting. Philips currently holds around 54,000 patent
rights, 39,000 trademarks, 70,000 design rights and 4,400 domain name
Philips has been active in Pakistan since 1948 and has a wholly owned
subsidiary, Philips Pakistan Limited (Formerly Philips Electrical Industries
of Pakistan Limited).
It has head office in Karachi and two regional sales offices in Lahore and
The CEO of the Philips Pakistan is Asad Said Jafar.
The Philips building in the Hong Kong Science Park
Philips Hong Kong began operation in 1948. Philips Hong Kong houses the
global headquarters of Philips' Audio Business Unit. It also house Philips'
Asia Pacific regional office and headquarters for its Design Division,
Domestic Appliances & Personal Care Products Division, Lighting Products
Division and Medical System Products Division. Philips also has a Light
Factory in Hong Kong, with 11 automatic production lines installed which is
capable of producing 200 million pieces a year. The Philips Light Factory
was established in 1974, now certified with ISO 9001:2000 & ISO 14001, its
product portfolio ranges from Prefocus, Lensend to E10 miniature light
In early 2008 Philips Lighting, a division of Royal Philips Electronics,
opened a small engineering center in Shanghai to adapt the company's
products to vehicles in Asia.
Philips began operations in India in 1930 with the establishment of Philips
Electrical Co. (India) Pvt Ltd in Kolkata as a sales outlet for imported
Philips lamps. In 1938, Philips established its first Indian
lamp-manufacturing factory in Kolkata. In 1948, Philips started
manufacturing radios in Kolkata. In 1959, a second radio factory was
established near Pune. In 1957, the company converted into a public limited
company, renamed "Philips India Ltd". In 1970 a new consumer electronics
factory began operations in Pimpri near Pune; the factory was closed in
2006. In 1996, the Philips Software Centre was established in Bangalore,
later renamed the Philips Innovation Campus. In 2008, Philips India entered
the water purifier market. In 2014, Philip's was ranked 12th among India's
most trusted brands according to the Brand Trust Report, a study conducted
by Trust Research Advisory.
Philips has been active in Israel since 1948 and in 1998 set up a wholly
owned subsidiary, Philips Electronics (Israel) Ltd. The company has over 700
employees in Israel and generated sales of over $300 million in 2007.
Philips Medical Systems Technologies Ltd. (Haifa) is a developer and
manufacturer of Computerized Tomography (CT), diagnostic and Medical Imaging
systems. The company was founded in 1969 as Elscint by Elron Electronic
Industries and was acquired by Marconi Medical Systems in 1998, which was
itself acquired by Philips in 2001.
Philips Semiconductors formerly had major operations in Israel; these now
form part of NXP Semiconductors.
The headquarters of Philips France in Suresnes
Philips France has its headquarters in Suresnes. The company employs over
3600 people nationwide.
Philips Lighting has manufacturing facilities in Chalon-sur-Saône
(fluorescent lamps), Chartres (automotive lighting), Lamotte-Beuvron
(architectural lighting by LEDs and professional indoor lighting), Longvic
(lamps), Miribel (outdoor lighting), Nevers (professional indoor lighting).
Philips' Greece is headquartered in Marousi, Attica. As of 2012 Philips has
no manufacturing plants in Greece, although there have been in the past.
Philips founded its Italian headquarter in 1918, basing it in Monza (Milan)
where it still operates, for commercial activities only.
Philips' operations in Poland include: a European financial and accounting
centre in Łódź; Philips Lighting facilities in Bielsko-Biała, Pabianice,
Piła, and Kętrzyn; and a Philips Domestic Appliances facility in Białystok.
Philips UK has its headquarters in Guildford, Surrey. The company employs
over 2500 people nationwide.
Philips Healthcare Informatics, Belfast develops healthcare software
Philips Consumer Products, Guildford provides sales and marketing for
televisions, including High Definition televisions, DVD recorders, hi-fi and
portable audio, CD recorders, PC peripherals, cordless telephones, home and
kitchen appliances, personal care (shavers, hair dryers, body beauty and
oral hygiene ).
Philips Dictation Systems, Colchester, Essex.
Philips Lighting: sales from Guildford and manufacture in Hamilton,
Philips Healthcare, Reigate, Surrey. Sales and technical support for X-ray,
ultrasound, nuclear medicine, patient monitoring, magnetic resonance,
computed tomography, and resuscitation products.
Philips Research Laboratories, Cambridge (Until 2008 based in Redhill,
Surrey. Originally these were the Mullard Research Laboratories.)
In the past, Philips UK also included
Consumer product manufacturing in Croydon
Television Tube Manufacturing Mullard Simonstone, Lancashire
Philips Business Communications, Cambridge: offered voice and data
communications products, specialising in Customer Relationship Management
(CRM) applications, IP Telephony, data networking, voice processing, command
and control systems and cordless and mobile telephony. In 2006 the business
was placed into a 60/40 joint venture with NEC. NEC later acquired 100%
ownership and the business was renamed NEC Unified Solutions.
Philips Electronics Blackburn Lancashire; vacuum tubes, capacitors,
delay-lines, Laserdiscs, CDs.
Philips Domestic Appliances Hastings: Design and Production of Electric
kettles, Fan Heaters, plus former EKCO brand "Thermotube" Tubular Heaters
and "Hostess" Domestic Food Warming Trolleys.
Philips Semiconductors, Hazel Grove, Stockport, Greater Manchester and
Southampton, Hampshire, both also earlier part of Mullard. These became part
London Carriers, logistics and transport division.
Mullard Equipment Limited (MEL) which produced products for the military
Pye Telecommunications Ltd of Cambridge
TMC Limited of Malmesbury, Wiltshire
Pye TVT Ltd of Cambridge