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The Survivors. Where are they now? Page five
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The survivors - Page five

The Gramophone Company

The Gramophone Company of Great Britain started life as a maker of acoustic players for 78 RPM disc records. These were typically a small square wooden box with a stylus and large brass horn mounted on top next to a turntable for the record to spin on. These were sold under the 'His Master's Voice' (HMV) brand and the logo included the well known dog called Nipper. In 1930, The company started importing receivers from the United States, marketing them under the same brand. These receivers were extremely expensive and would have only ever appealed to the higher classes in society. However shortly after this, local manufacture of receivers was begun in earnest and a factory to achieve this goal was built in Homebush, New South Wales, not far from the present Olympic Park precinct.

The models which stood proud in drawing rooms, known as consoles, sold very well and more so than table models, opposing trends elsewhere in the world. Aussies liked their radios bigger and better and HMV receivers didn't disappoint. During World War II, The Gramophone Company devoted time to manufacture of RADAR equipment for the Allied forces due to dwindling receiver sales. After the war, receiver making resumed and HMV was one of the best selling brands right up to the end of the valve era.

In 1949 EMI Sales and Service Proprietary Limited bought out The Gramophone Company and continued to manufacture receivers under the HMV brand, as well as producing records and moving into television during the 1950's. In 1975 local manufacturing of HMV televisions and radios stopped forever in response to the Commonwealth Government relaxing import tariffs. EMI has since been acquired by Thorn, a British company which still manufactures compact discs but deals mainly in the manufacture of luminaires and lamps. Some of the luminaire production is carried out in Australia but all lamp production is off-shore.

Thom And Smith

Thom and Smith Proprietary Limited was founded by Fred Thom and John Smith in 1929. They started manufacturing two models, each containing three valves, the same year in a fairly small factory in Woolloomooloo, New South Wales. These sets were made under the Tasma brand but were not badged as such. In 1931, the demand exceeded the ability to supply which mant shifting to a larger factory. Thom And Smith Proprietary Limited then started to brand their receivers.

Tasma became one of the first companies to mark the tuning dials with states and station call signs rather than the frequency range. This was quickly adopted by all other Australian and New Zealand manufacturers but appears to be unique to these two countries. Tasma also introduced sealing of tuning coils to repel moisture from the sets in the tropical areas of Far North Queensland.

During World War II, Thom And Smith digressed into building receivers and transmitting equipment for the Royal Australian Air Force. This equipment was used extensively throughout the Pacific War and proved to be very reliable. Despite the shrinking market, they were able to remain as a domestic receiver manufacturer up until the end of the war. In 1953 Thom and Smith was taken over by another comapny called President, who made fridges, and receivers made after this merger were branded 'President-Tasma'. It was not a lasting relationship though as the radio business ran into financial troubles. Thom And Smith was then sold to Pope Industries. Pope was later bought out by Simpson, which then was bought out by EMAIL, which was then sold to Southcorp and then sold to Electrolux. After the sale to Pope, Fred Thom left the company and started a business called Thom Electronics which was later sold to James N Kirby Limited, a large manufacturer of electric motors carring the 'Betts' brand. Under the Kirby ownership, Thom Electronics manufactuered televisions carrying the 'Crosley' brand. General Electric then bought Thom Electronics off Kirby's and then wound up the business as pressure from imports started to take hold. No televisions ever carred the 'Tasma' brand.

Zenith

Zenith (no relation to a US radio manufacturer by the same name) came into being in 1934 after a Mr H Coles decided to get into receiver making. Zenith made a number of battery powered sets which were well patronised by farmers as there was no municipal electricity supply outside the major cities at the time. Zenith also made receivers under the Ambassador and the Adventurer brands.

During World War II domestic receiver manufacture gave way to making two-way radio equipment for the Armed Forces. After the war there was a break in Zenith's activities until 1947 when they started making receivers under the 'Calstan' brand. The last model was released in 1953 then Zenith seemed to have disappeared from radar screens, so to say.

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