Electronic Design

Survivors: Fifty Years And Still Going Strong

Electronic Design's golden anniversary has us wondering... how many electronics companies have also hit the 50-year mark? Probably more than you think. So here's a look at 50 companies that have passed the half-century milestone of plying their trade in the electronics industry. The list includes manufacturers of many different products, ranging from components to computers to communications systems. Remarkably, some of the companies have been successfully selling the same products for over 50 years. While this selection of firms is by no means comprehensive, it provides a fascinating snapshot of some stalwart industry survivors. Here is the honor roll, organized by the year that the company was founded. It starts with the eldest at over 150 years of age and progresses to the youngest at 51. Congratulations to one and all!

1847  Siemens AG (Infineon Technologies AG)
In 1847, Werner von Siemens constructed the pointer telegraph. This invention enabled him to lay the cornerstone of his company, Munich-based Siemens & Halske Telegraph Construction Co. The name was changed to Siemens & Halske AG in 1903, then to Siemens AG in 1966. Semiconductor operations, spun off into Infineon Technologies AG in 1999, produces communications, automotive electronics, and memory products.

1875  Toshiba Corp.
Beginning as Tanaka Engineering Works, this was Japan's first manufacturer of telegraphic equipment. It later became Shibaura Engineering Works, merged with Tokyo Electric Co. in 1939, and was named Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co. It officially became Toshiba in 1978. Currently, it manufactures a wide range of products, including electronic components, consumer electronics, and communications systems.

1885  Honeywell International Inc.
This started as the Butz Thermo-Electric Regulator Co., which developed a furnace regulator and alarm. In 1927 the company became the Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co., and it developed the electronic autopilot during World War II. The company's name changed to Honeywell Inc. in 1963. Although it dabbled in computers, the company is now involved in aerospace electronics, industry control systems, and sensor products.

1886  Energizer
Founded as the National Carbon Co., it marketed the first battery for consumer use in 1896, the 6-in. Columbia used to power home telephones. After several mergers, the company became known as the Eveready Battery Co./Energizer, which still manufactures battery products today.

1891  Philips Electronics N.V.
The company got its start by making carbon-filament lamps, but it is now active in many areas, including digital technologies for television and displays, wireless communications, speech recognition, and storage and optical products.

1895  Harris Corp.
Two Harris brothers started the Harris Automatic Press Co. by developing an automatic sheet feeder for the printing press. It became Harris-Intertype, and finally Harris Corp. in 1974. The company decided to enter the communications industry in the 1950s. Harris offered semiconductors for a time, but now the company's products include system-level communications systems and network test equipment.

1896  Chicago Telephone Supply (CTS) Corp.
CTS began with switchboard apparatus and later moved on to making potentiometers. During World War II it expanded into radio parts, then TV and automotive components. Today it manufactures electronic components and assemblies, including sensors, resistor networks, oscillators, and switches.

1899  NEC Corp.
It began as Nippon Electric Co. Ltd., manufacturer of telephone and switching equipment, and officially became NEC Corp. in 1983. Now it produces communications, computers, and semiconductor IC products.

1906  Rayovac Corp.
Founded as the French Battery Co., it was renamed Rayovac Co. in the mid-1930s. It develops and manufactures battery products.

1909  Cornell Dubilier Electronics Inc.
Launched as Dubilier Co., it joined with the Cornell Electric Manufacturing Co. in 1933 to form Cornell Dubilier Electric. It offers a wide range of capacitors and passive components.

1910  Hitachi Ltd.
Hitachi began as an electrical repair shop. Now the company manufactures a wide range of products, such as computers, semiconductors, consumer products, and power and industrial equipment.

1911  IBM Corp.
Started as CTR (Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co.), the company manufactured and sold machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards. Within a few years, it focused on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses. It changed its name to IBM Corp. (International Business Machines) in 1924, and it currently provides computer hardware, semiconductors, software, and network products and services.

1918  Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic)
The company was originally founded as Matsushita Electric Devices Manufacturing Works, a small workshop with only two employees that set out to make and market an improved attachment plug. In 1935, it was incorporated as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. The Matsushita group of companies manufactures products ranging from electronic components to consumer electronic products to heavy machinery.

1920  Stanley Electric Co. Ltd.
What began as a manufacturer of automotive light bulbs now makes LEDs, LCDs, optical sensors, and other lighting products.

1921  RadioShack Corp.
The current chain of stores started as a one-store retail and mail-order operation in the heart of downtown Boston. The founders chose the name RadioShack, a term for the small, wooden structure that housed a ship's radio equipment, because it was appropriate for a store that would fill the needs of radio officers aboard ships, as well as ham radio operators. It's now a retailer of telecom, audio, computer, electronic parts, batteries, and accessories.

1922  Raytheon Co.
Founded as the American Appliance Co., the company changed its name to Raytheon Manufacturing Co. in 1925 because of its successful Raytheon radio tube. The company has consistently developed defense technologies and converted those technologies for use in commercial markets, such as its adaptation of World War II radar technology to invent microwave cooking. Today it focuses on government and commercial electronics applications, including aerospace and wireless technologies.

1924  Hirschmann Electronics GmbH
Beginning with the invention of the one/two connector (banana plug), the company now offers mobile transmitter and reception systems, analog and digital radio broadcast technology, and network components and fieldbus systems, among other products.

1924  J.W. Miller Magnetics
John Willard Miller started the business in his kitchen, making RF coils for friends and fellow radio amateurs. The company still manufactures magnetic and inductive components.

1925  Bell Laboratories (Lucent Technologies)
The company began as Bell Telephone Labs, the research and development arm of AT&T. In 1996, the systems and technology unit of AT&T spun off to form Lucent Technologies. Currently it's a research and development lab for emerging telecommunications and computer technologies.

1925  Ohmite Manufacturing Co.
Founded as an electronics components company, Ohmite still manufactures power resistors, rheostats, and tap switches.

1925  Shure Inc.
Shure Brothers was originally a one-man operation that sold radio parts kits. It changed its name to Shure Inc. in 2000 and currently manufactures microphones and audio electronics.

1928  Allied Electronics
Allied Radio was established as the radio parts distribution arm of Columbia Radio Corp. In 1962, the first industrial catalog for Allied Electronics, a subsidiary of Allied Radio, was released and it continues today as an electronics distributor.

1928  Motorola Inc.
Founded as Galvin Manufacturing Corp. in 1928, the company's first product was a battery eliminator, allowing consumers to operate radios directly from household current instead of the batteries supplied with early models. In the 1930s, the company successfully commercialized car radios under the brand name "Motorola," a word suggesting sound in motion. It changed its name to Motorola in 1947 and currently provides communications and semiconductor products.

1930  Omron Corp.
What began as Tateisi Electric Manufacturing Co. became known as Omron Tateisi Electronics Co. in 1948, and subsequently Omron Corp. It offers a variety of components, including relays, sensors, and switches.

1930  Texas Instruments Inc.
It started in 1930 as Geophysical Service, an oil-exploration company, then changed its name to Texas Instruments in 1951. TI provides DSP, analog technologies, and sensors and controls for signal processing systems.

1932  Littelfuse Inc.
Littelfuse has been designing and manufacturing circuit-protection products since its inception.

1933  Rhode and Schwarz
Its first product in 1932 was a measuring instrument: a precision frequency meter for wavelengths of 6 to 3600 meters. The company now manufactures products in the fields of test and measurement, information technology, and radiocommunications.

1934  Newark Electronics
The company began as Newark Electric Co. and changed to Newark Electronics in 1960. It pioneered electronic parts distribution and is still in that business.

1935  Fujitsu Ltd.
The business was at first the communications division of Fuji Electric Co. Ltd., which manufactured telephones. It was officially named Fujitsu Ltd. in 1967. Now the company offers products for information technology and communications, including semiconductor technology, optical networks, and high-end servers.

1935  Illinois Capacitor Inc.
A designer and manufacturer of electrolytic and film capacitors.

1936  American Phenolic Corp. (Amphenol)
Manufacturer of electrical, electronic and fiber-optic connectors, coaxial and flat-ribbon cable, and interconnect systems, it's still making the products originally designed in 1935.

1938  Molex Inc.
It started as Molex Products Co. and currently manufactures electronic, electrical, and fiber-optic interconnection products and systems. It also makes various switches and application tooling.

1939  Hewlett-Packard Co. (Agilent Technologies)
The company was founded in 1939 in a garage as Hewlett-Packard, a manufacturer of test and measurement products. It started with $538 in working capital, which consisted of cash and a used Sears-Roebuck drill press. HP's first product was an audio oscillator used to test sound equipment. It spun off test, measurement, and components products operations as a new company, Agilent Technologies, in 1999.

1942  Ericsson Microelectronics
Founded as Rifa with the mission to manufacture resistors and capacitors for the Swedish radio industry during World War II, the company later became known as Ericsson in 1947 and adopted the name Ericsson Microelectronics in 2000. It's a supplier of microelectronic devices including discrete semiconductors, ICs, and value-added subassemblies used in telecommunication applications.

1943  Grayhill Inc.
The company's original mission was to manufacture miniature precision components for the electronics industry. It designs and manufactures switches, keyboards, keypads, I/O modules, control systems, and wireless products.

1943  R.L. Drake Co.
The company began as a manufacturer of low-pass and high-pass filters for the government and amateur radio market. After World War II, the company applied its engineering expertise to the consumer market and started producing ham radio transmitters and receivers. Today it's a manufacturer of electronic communications equipment for cable television systems, assistive listening, video signal distribution, short-wave radio, and digital television reception.

1944  Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
Since its inception, Murata has manufactured a range of electronic components that exploit the unique electrical properties of ceramic materials, such as capacitors, thermistors, and EMI filters.

1946  Coilcraft Inc.
Founded as a custom coil maker for the television set manufacturers clustered around the Chicago area, Coilcraft now produces inductors for telecommunications, computers, instrumentation, and consumer electronics.

1946  Keithley Instruments Inc.
The company has always manufactured electronic test and measurement and data-acquisition solutions for engineers and scientists.

1946  Kepco Inc.
Four brothers developed a board and overlays for different circuit experiments designed to teach vacuum tube circuits to college-level students. They also designed and built a power supply to run the experiments. Customers liked the experiments but also wanted to buy the power supply, so the company started designing and manufacturing regulated dc power supplies and associated electronic equipment.

1946  Sony Corp.
The company began as Tokyo Telecommunications Research Institute and adopted Sony as its corporate name in 1958 after using it as a product brand for three years. It manufactures semiconductor, computer, and consumer electronic products.

1946  Switchcraft Inc.
Created as a company to manufacture jacks, plugs, and switches, Switchcraft manufactures components that include jacks, connectors, power cords, switches, and molded cable assemblies.

1946  Tektronix Inc.
From the start, Tektronix has designed and manufactured test and measurement equipment. Although it provides a broad range of instruments, the company has always been a leader in oscilloscope technology. Today, Tektronix's market share of the scope industry is more than two times larger than any competitor.

1947  Bourns Inc.
Bourns started in the family garage. The company's first product was a miniature, linear motion and vane position potentiometer, used to give airplane pilots an idea of whether they were ascending or descending. Today's product line includes trimming potentiometers, fuses, resistor networks, sensors, and controls.

1947  International Rectifier
Founded to manufacture Selenium rectifiers, International Rectifier designs and manufactures power conversion devices, including power MOSFETs, diodes, and linear regulators today.

1948  Fluke Corp.
Fluke has been manufacturing electronic test tools and software for over 50 years. Its first product was a highly accurate benchtop power meter. In 1969, Fluke developed the digital voltmeter. But the company may be best known for bringing laboratory accuracy to rugged portable and handheld equipment.

1948  Lambda Electronics Inc.
The company designs and manufactures standard switching and linear electronic power supplies.

1949  McIntosh Labs
McIntosh is one of the last surviving U.S. audio equipment manufacturers from the Golden Years of Hi-Fi.

1950  Nichicon Corp.
Nichicon has always designed and manufactured capacitor products.

1951  Kulicke and Soffa
Founded as an engineering company building specialty machinery, it developed the industry's first wirebonder. Today the company supplies wirebonding and other packaging assembly equipment for the entire semiconductor industry.

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