The survivors - Page three
Kriesler began as a small company based in Sydney in 1926. Kriesler initially used many imported components in the manufacture of their sets but the production runs were quite small for the time. In 1933 the momentum of expansion and progress wasn't enough to keep Kriesler afloat and the company was liquidated. The new owner gave the company a slight name change and then Kriesler Australasia Limited underwent a restructure to effect some cost savings. Kriesler went on to produce a 10 valve receiver in 1935 that they claimed to be the most powerful receiver ever made.
They also became known for producing their own loudspeakers, which not many manufacturers were able to do because of the tooling up costs. Most manufacturers, including AWA who also had extensive ability to make loudspeakers preferred to outsource production to companies like Amplion, Magnavox and Rola.
During World War II Kriesler made transmitters and various electrical components for aircraft in the Royal Australian Air Force. Whilst most radio manufacturing had ceased between 1941 and 1945, Kriesler still made limited runs of models, mainly 6 volt vibrator models to cater for those wanting to listen to news about the war containing either six or seven valves.
It was 1950 and Kriesler was taken over by Philips Industries Limited but production remained largely autonomous and for years after, new radios and televisions were sold under the Kriesler brand. Kriesler became generally synonymous with producing upmarket television and stereo radiograms and floor models had many speakers and considerable size. For some odd reason Kriesler equipment was distributed in all states except Tasmania. At the end of the valve era Kriesler produced many solid state radios with the new germanium transistors and diodes though televisions maintained a valve compliment until colour was introduced in 1974.
In 1983 Krielser was wound up after pressure from imports and the advent of the video cassette recorder. It is believed that Philips still owns the brand as a trademark.
Lekmek was one of the lesser known companies, set up by Norman Gilmore in 1931 after retiring from a job he held with the Postmaster General's Department. Lekmek specialised in kitset radios but also produced many fully made receivers and if you see a receiver with octagonal knobs then it will invariably be a Lekmek.
Lekmek began manufacture of studio equipment and transmitters in 1937 and many rural stations were fitted out with Lekmek equipment. However Lekmek's run of luck came to an abrupt end in 1940. Rather than taking on government projects the company folded during the war years when radio manufacturing stopped to cater for the war effort.
Unlike most radio manufacturers of the time, Philips is still a thriving company who participates in most electrical and electronics markets around the world. Philips began in Australia as an importer of lamps from Holland where the parent company, Royal Philips Electronics, is based. Philips began producing valves in 1920 but these were also initially imported. Local manufacture was introduced in 1923 to cater for very strong demand. For the first years Philips confined themselves to the manufacture of lamps, valves and radio parts.
Manufacture of fully built receivers came, and stayed, as Philips earned a reputation for producing components of the highest quality available. The first receivers were imported from Holland but local manufacture was inevitable when the Commonwealth introduced heavy tariffs on imports to help expand secondary manufacturing in Australia. However a few bad decisions both in design and specification and some mediocre marketing techniques, Philips closed their assembly facility in 1931.
In 1934 local production restarted and for the next six or seven years Philips produced many models including the legendary 'Theatrette'. Production was scaled back during World War II though at the same time, Philips assumed the role of manufacture of all models bearing the 'Mullard' brand. Philips also started making alot of hardware for the Armed Forces. After the war, radio manufacture picked up and Philips also spent time developing cathode ray tubes (picture tubes) for the start of Television in Australia. By 1956, Philips had earned the title for the first Australian made cathode ray tube.
In the 1960's Philips scaled back radio production in favour of television. To this day, brands owned by Philips include Mullard, Marantz, Astor, Pye and Kriesler. Philips is the largest manufacturer of commercial lighting in the world and is still a major brand in the domestic appliance industry. Most manufacturing, however, is done offshore today because of the lesser effect of the current import tariff regime.
Radio Corporation began life as Louis Coen Wireless in Melbourne, Victoria in 1922. By 1924 there'd been a series of amalgamations and the name 'Radio Corporation' came into being and ended up being one of the largest radio companies in Australia. Radio Corporation manufactured 'Astor' brand receivers but also imported a number of 'Crosley' brand sets from the United States until imports were restricted in 1930. They also made radio components carrying the 'Advance' brand and these items were well patronised by home constructors.
In 1939 Radio Corporation was taken over by Electronic Industries Limited (EIL). Between 1939 and 1945 EIL was a heavy contributor to the Allied war effort, producing equipment for the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy. In 1945 EIL kick started their manufacturing of domestic equipment again with the introduction of new models. Among these were consoles, mantels and even car radios! In 1960 though and despite there still being a restrictive import tariff policy in place, imports were becoming cheap enough to sell in Australia and Japanese companies like National and Sony were trading at a loss to compete, relying on Japanese consumption to absorb the losses. EIL was acquired by Pye and in 1970, Pye was acquired by Philips which survives today as a lighting and appliance manufacturer.
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