1986 ad for Philips “Take a closer look”.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Royal Philips Electronics Inc.), usually known as Philips, (Euronext: PHIA, NYSE: PHG) is one of the largest electronics companies in the world, founded and headquartered in the Netherlands. In 2006, its sales were €26.976 billion[1] and it employed 128,615 people in more than 60 countries. Philips is organized in a number of sectors: Philips Consumer Lifestyle (formerly Philips Consumer Electronics and Philips Domestic Appliances and Personal Care), Philips Lighting and Philips Healthcare (formerly Philips Medical Systems).

The company was founded in 1891 by Gerard Philips, a maternal cousin of Karl Marx, in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Its first products were light bulbs and other electro technical equipment. Its first factory remains as a museum. In the 1920s, the company started to manufacture other products, such as vacuum tubes (also known worldwide as ‘valves’), In 1927 they acquired the British electronic valve manufacturers Mullard and in 1932 the German tube manufacturer Valvo, both of which became subsidiaries. In 1939 they introduced their electric razor, the Philishave (marketed in the USA using the Norelco brand name). Also on March 11th, 1927 Philips went on the air with a station called PCJ now known as Radio Netherlands. It was broadcast to the Dutch East Indies. The host of the first broadcast was Eddy Startz and from 1927 until he retired in 1969 hosted a show called Happy Station. The only time the station went off air was when the Nazis invaded Holland. At the end of the war PCJ changed its name to Radio Netherlands and has been broadcasting to this day.

The company was also instrumental in the revival of the Stirling engine.

On May 9, 1940, the Philips directors were informed about the German invasion of the Netherlands to take place on May 10. They decided to leave the country and flee to the United States, taking a large amount of the company capital with them. Operating from the US as the North American Philips Company, they managed to run the company throughout the war. At the same time, the company itself was moved to the Netherlands Antilles (just on paper) to keep it out of German hands.

It is also believed that Philips – both before and during the war – supplied enormous amounts of electric equipment to the German occupation forces, which has led some people to think that the company collaborated with the Nazis, like many other firms in their day. However, there is no evidence to suggest that Philips itself or its management ever sympathized with the Nazis or their ideologies. The only Philips family member who did not leave the country, Frits Philips, saved the lives of 382 Jews by indicating to the Nazis that they were indispensable for the production process at Philips[3]. In 1996, he was awarded the Yad Vashem reward by the Israeli ambassador for his actions. There is little Philips could have done to prevent the Germans from abusing their production facilities and forcing their employees to perform slave labor during the occupation. The production facility in Eindhoven was the only Dutch industrial target that was deliberately bombed by the allied forces during the war.

Postwar era

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.

Philips introduced the compact audio cassette tape in 1963 and was wildly successful, though its attempt to set a standard for video cassette recorders, the V2000, was unsuccessful in the face of competition from the Betamax and especially VHS standards. It had introduced a video cassette recorder system in the early 1970s, the N1500 could record/play for about 30 minutes while the N1700 extended this to over 1 hour.

In 1982, Philips developed the Compact Disc in partnership with Sony.

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 decision was made 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. In a sense, the move to Amsterdam can be considered a return to the company’s roots, because Gerard Philips lived in Amsterdam when he came up with the idea of building a light bulb factory. He also conducted his first experiments in the field of mass production of light bulbs there, together with Jan Reesse. 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 Andover, Massachusetts, United States (since moving from Best, Netherlands in 2002).

Info taken from Wikipedia

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