Written by Bryce Ringwood   

Philips was founded in Eindhoven in the Netherlands in 1891 to meet the growing demand for light bulbs as a result of the commercialisation of electricity.

In 1926 Philips introduced the miniwatt range of radio valves, which carried the familiar “waves and stars” emblem. Many light bulb manufacturers at that time sought to get into the lucrative business of valves, so it was a natural thing for the Philips company to pursue. Having said that, Philips had already gone on the air with two short-wave broadcasting stations.

These activities were interrupted during the war and some of Philips transmitters were commandeered by the Germans and used for pro-Nazi broadcasts.

After the war, the Philips shortwave stations were nationalised and became Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the Dutch International Service. You can still listen to this station on Shortwave and DSTV radio channels.

In 1929 the Philips South Africa Electrical Company (Pty )Ltd was formed. The company was initially in Commissioner Street, and soon afterwards had branches in Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth. The company was renamed South African Philips and moved its Headquarters to Martindale, its present location. Local assembly commenced with radio sets in 1938.

Philips have produced some very attractive radios, including the model 930A introduced in 1931 . The speaker grille has the waves and stars emblem overlying the speaker cloth.

From a technical point of view, Philips have been a very innovative company. They have collaborated with other companies, such as SONY, to bring us the CDROM and Blu-Ray format optical disks. Alas, with innovation comes headaches. For me, the Philips dial-drives are always a nightmare and the minuscule IF transformers also present a challenge if they need any form of adjustment. (The good news is they can be hand rewound quite quickly.) I remember nearly purchasing a Philips digital shortwave radio in the late '70s – but never got as far.

I have attended to quite a number of Philips radios and every on has introduced me to a new idea, or sometimes a challenge to my ignorance!

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