More than a century of innovation and entrepreneurship

Inspired by the fast-growing electricity industry and the promising results of son Gerard’s own experiments to make reliable carbon filaments, in 1891 Frederik Philips financed the purchase of a modest factory in Eindhoven. Their plan? To bring cost-effective, reliable electric incandescent light bulbs to everyone who needed them.


Over the years since then, we have continued to improve people’s lives with a steady flow of ground-breaking innovations.

1891 - 1915

From light revolution to
product evolution


Philips began by making carbon-filament lamps and quickly became one of the largest producers in Europe. From the outset, Philips was an export-oriented company. Large orders were won in Russia, including one from the Tsar to light up the Winter Palace. In 1912, Philips became a limited company, with publicly traded shares, listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. With developments in new lighting technology fueling a steady program of expansion, Philips established a research laboratory in 1914 – the world-renowned ‘NatLab’ – to study physical and chemical phenomena and stimulate product innovation.

1915 – 1925

Innovation and diversification: X-rays and radio reception


In 1916, Philips received royal recognition on its 25th anniversary. Two years later it introduced a medical X-ray tube. This marked the point when the company began to diversify its product range and to systematically protect its innovations with patents in areas stretching from X-ray radiation to radio reception. During this period, sales organizations were established all over Europe and in countries like China, Australia and Brazil.

1925 – 1940

The first radios, televisions and electric shavers


In 1927, Philips began producing radios, and within five years it had sold one million sets and become the world’s largest manufacturer of radios and radio tubes. A year later, it produced its 100-millionth radio valve. In 1933 the company started production of medical X-ray equipment in the United States. Having been involved in experiments in television since 1925, Philips showcased its first television at the Annual Fair in Utrecht in 1938. One year later it launched its pioneering rotary electric shaver, the Philishave.

1940 – 1970

A succession of technology breakthroughs


Science and technology underwent tremendous development in the 1940s and 1950s, with Philips Research laying the basis for later ground-breaking work in transistors and integrated circuits. The year 1949 saw the introduction of the Philips Synchrocyclotron, enabling research into the treatment of malignant tumors. The company also continued to make major contributions to the recording, transmission and reproduction of television pictures. And in 1963 it introduced the Compact Audio Cassette, setting the global standard for tape recording.

1970 – 1980

Continued product innovation for images, sound and data


The flow of exciting new products and ideas continued throughout the 1970s. In a decade when energy management was high on the agenda, Philips Research contributed to the new energy-saving lamps. Key breakthroughs were also made in the processing, storage and transmission of images, sound and data. These subsequently led to the invention of optical telecommunication systems, the LaserVision optical disc, and the highly successful Compact Disc.

1980 – 1990

Technological landmark: the Compact Disc


The 1982/83 market launch of the Compact Disc – developed together with Sony – represented another technological landmark for Philips. This new digital format delivered pure sound without background noise. Key to CD’s success was the companies’ decision to grant manufacturing rights to other producers, immediately establishing CD as a new global standard. Other milestones from this period include the production of Philips' 100-millionth TV set in 1984 and the founding of Philips China Ltd in 1985.

1990 – 2000

Far-reaching changes and new successes


The 1990s was a decade of significant change for Philips, as the company simplified its structure and reduced the number of areas in which it operated. In healthcare, Philips adopted a new, people-centric approach to product design, the aim being to make medical systems easier for clinicians to use, and more comfortable for patients. Building on the success of its Compact Disc technology, Philips again partnered with Sony to introduce the DVD in 1997. This ground-breaking innovation went on to become the fastest-growing home electronics product in history.

21st century

Enduring commitment to innovation


Moving into a new century, Philips remained fully committed to innovation. Reflecting its focus on health and well-being, the company introduced the Ambient Experience in 2002. This innovative solution improves hospitals’ workflow and patient care by integrating architecture, design, dynamic lighting and sound. Other milestones include, in 2006, the first commercial launch of a 3D scanner, providing unprecedented image quality for CT scans. In 2012, Philips introduced the AlluraClarity interventional X-ray system, which offers excellent visibility at low X-ray dose levels. Recent innovations include the development of the Philips Smart Air Purifier and solutions for minimally-invasive surgery.


In the field of lighting, landmark achievements during this period include winning the US Department of Energy’s ‘L Prize’ for the first 60 W-equivalent LED bulb, the development of the CityTouch connected LED lighting management system and the Philips hue personal wireless lighting system, and the world’s most energy-efficient LED lamp breaking the 200 lumens per watt barrier.