Magnavox (Latin for "great voice") is an US electronics company founded by Edwin Pridham and Peter L. Jensen. They invented a moving-coil loudspeaker in 1915 at their lab in Napa, California and they named their brainchild "Magnavox". The company was formed in 1917 under the same name to market the invention.
Magnavox became a major consumer and defense electronics company. It manufactured radios, TVs, and record players (gramophones). With the introduction of the Odyssey in 1972, Magnavox began the home video game console market. Philips acquired Magnavox's consumer electronics division in 1974. Philips did this to ensure nationwide distribution for their VLP (later renamed LaserVision) Videodisc technology. During the late 1970s the company released the Odyssey², also known as the Philips Videopac. Then, in the early 1980s, Philips merged Sylvania, Philco and Magnavox into one division headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a manufacturing plant in Greeneville, Tennessee. The Sylvania plant in Batavia, NY was closed and all operations moved to Greeneville. Philips also abandoned the Sylvania trademark which is owned by Osram. In the 1990s, Philips licensed the Philco brand name to Funai. In the late 1990s, some Philips electronics were marketed under the brand name "Philips Magnavox" in an attempt to increase brand awareness of the Philips name in the United States. While it did work to a degree, it also caused confusion to the consumer as to the difference between "Philips Magnavox" products and "Philips" products. Philips now once again markets the brands separately. In January 2009, Philips licensed production of its television, audio and DVD products to Funai.
In the late 1970s, Philips developed "Laser Disc" technology, producing an optically read, 12 inch disc that would contain recorded video material. In the early 1980s, Philips worked with Sony to invent a standard for optical audio discs (CD's), using the technology developed for the "Laser Disc". Teamed with Sony, Philips used the Magnavox brand name to introduce Compact Disc standard and equipment for consumer audio with the Magnavox player sold in department stores while the Sony CDP-101 went to high-end audio stores.
The defense group, centered around Fort Wayne, IN, remained independent under the Magnavox Electronic Systems name, first under Philips and later in the Carlyle Group, until it was acquired by Hughes Electronics in 1995. The three areas of business of the MESC operation during the late '80s and early '90s were C-Cubed (Command, Control, and Communication), Electronic Warfare, and Sonobuoys. When Hughes Electronics sold its aerospace and defense operations to Raytheon, the former Magnavox defense operations were transferred as well. Shortly thereafter, Raytheon spun off the sonobuoy operation to form Under Sea Systems Inc, now Ultra-USSI in Columbia City, IN. The remainder of the operations now falls under Raytheon's Network Centric Systems in Fort Wayne, IN.
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