Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,518 pages of information and 233,949 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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1936. Marconi-EMI camera.
September 1953. Tape Recorders.
September 1953. Tape Recorders.
December 1955.
1959. Mobile Demonstration Unit.

of Hayes, Middlesex. Telephone: Southall 2468. Cables: "Emifactory, Hayes, Middlesex"

1931 The Electric and Musical Industries Ltd formed in March 1931 as a public company from a merger of the UK Columbia Graphophone Co and the Gramophone Co and others[1]. From its beginning, the company was involved in both the manufacture of recording and playback equipment and the provision of music to play on its machines.

The company's gramophone manufacturing led to forty years of success with larger-scale electronics. During and after the World War II, the EMI Laboratories in Hayes, Hillingdon developed radar equipment and guided missiles.

1934 Marconi's television transmission interests were merged with those of EMI Ltd in a company called Marconi-EMI Television Co which would be concerned with all aspects of transmission[2].

1934 Rudge-Whitworth, the largest Coventry cycle concern, was taken over by the Gramophone Company[3].

1936 The Marconi-EMI system was adopted by the BBC for its public high definition television service - the first in the world.

1937 Gramophone Co - wireless manufacturers. [4]

1939 Rudge-Whitworth production was moved to Hayes (Middlesex)[5]

WWII: started production of special types of thermionic valves.

1943 Rudge-Whitworth was acquired by Raleigh [6]

1945 With Smiths Motor Accessories Ltd Gramophone Co formed a joint company Radiomobile Ltd to market car radios developed and manufactured by the Gramophone Co[7].

1946 Reorganisation of EMI's companies. As a result, the Gramophone Co's research, design and production activities were distributed between 3 of EMI's subsidiaries[8].

1947 British Industries Fair Advert for Radio Frequency Heating for industrial purposes. Illustrating Model R.F.H.1. Manufacturers of Radio - Frequency Industrial heating Equipment for the Moulding Industry and a wide range of industrial processes, including treatment of wood, sterilisation of food, case-hardening of steel, brazing and soldering. (Plastics Section - Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No.821) [9] Also see EMI Factories

1947 EMI purchased a large factory at Perivale from Radio and Television Trust[10].

1949 EMI acquired control of Cossor's Electronic Tubes thermionic valve production subsidiary which continued to supply A. C. Cossor[11].

1950s Thorn Electrical Industries took over the manufacture of the HMV and Marconiphone range of consumer products from EMI.

1953 Gramophone Co - manufacturer of TV sets [12]

1955 Formed EMI Electronics Ltd to lead the expansion of business in commercial and industrial electronics; the company was previously known as Emitron Television Ltd; it would absorb EMI Engineering Developments, EMI Factories, and EMI Research Laboratories[13]

1956 GEC purchased EMI's share in the M-O Valve company which had been held through the Gramophone Co.

1955-7 The EMI Electronic Business Machine was developed at Hayes; this was a valve-based computer which was ordered by BMC for payroll work; valves were then recognised as being too unreliable and future computer development was based on transistors.

1958 the EMIDEC 1100, Britain's first transistorized computer, was developed at Hayes under the leadership of Godfrey Hounsfield.

The company won a contract from NRDC to develop a transistor-based computer, which came to fruition as the EMIDEC 2400.[14]

1960 EMI bid for Simon-Carves but was unsuccessful[15].

1961 Gramophone Co - manufacturers of television and radio apparatus, gramophone records and household appliances. [16]

1961 Columbia Gramophone Co - Manufacturers of gramophone records, radio sets, radio-grams and television receivers. [17]

1961 Holding company for nine subsidiaries. Group employees are 26,000. [18]

1966 AEI and EMI formed British Domestic Appliances to bring together their Hotpoint and Morphy-Richards subsidiaries[19].

By 1967 EMI had sold just 3 of its Emidec 2400 computers[20]

1967 The nucleonics activities were acquired by Nuclear Enterprises (G.B.)

1968 Queen's Award to Industry for Technological Innovation. [21]

1968 Supplied reactor operating recorder for the Winfrith power station. as EMI (Electronic). [22]

1968 GEC and EMI merged their domestic appliance businesses, British Domestic Appliances and GEC (Domestic Equipment) producing the largest refrigerator maker in the UK and major share in washing machines, cookers and small electrical appliances[23], which was then called British Domestic Appliances.

1969 Acquired Associated Fire Alarms, followed shortly thereafer by Minerva Fire Defence[24].

Early 1970s, the EMI scientist developed the first CAT scanner, a device which revolutionized medical imaging. Hounsfield later won the Nobel Prize for his accomplishment. After brief but brilliant success in the imaging field, EMI's manufacturing activities declined and disappeared.

1973 GEC acquired EMI's share of British Domestic Appliances[25].

1976 EMI acquired a further 61 percent of Nuclear Enterprises, taking its holding up to 90 percent, particularly because of interest in Nuclear Enterprises' ultrasonic scanning equipment, which would complement EMI's whole body X-ray scanner[26]

1979 EMI was acquired by Thorn Electrical Industries to form Thorn EMI[27] one of the largest operating companies in the UK.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Sep 17, 1931
  2. The Times, 24 May 1934
  3. History of Coventry [1]
  4. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  5. History of Coventry [2]
  6. History of Coventry [3]
  9. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 87; and p89
  10. The Times, 17 December 1947
  12. Choosing your Television Set. Published by Freelance in 1953.
  13. The Times, Feb 02, 1955
  14. Early Computer Developments at EMI, by Ron Clayden [4]
  15. The Times, 10 March 1960
  16. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  17. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  18. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises
  19. The Times, 17 January 1970
  20. British Computer Industry - Success Or Failure? by Nicholas Enticknap [5]
  21. The Engineer of 26th April 1968 p650
  22. The Engineer of 8th March 1968 p399
  23. The Times, 25 May 1968
  24. The Times, 1 November 1969
  25. he Times, 4 July 1973
  26. The Times, Oct 05, 1976
  27. The Times, 14 November 1979