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History of the manufacturer  

Sylvania (Hygrade, GTE, Nilco); Emporium (PA)

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Name: Sylvania (Hygrade, GTE, Nilco); Emporium (PA)    (USA)  
Abbreviation: sylvania
Products: Model types Others Tube manufacturer

Sylvania Products Company (1924-1931)
Emporium, PA (1929)

Hygrade-Sylvania Corporation (1931-1942)
Emporium, PA (Sylvania Division, 1931)
Salem, MA (Hygrade Lamp Division, 1931)
64 Lakeview Ave., Clifton, NJ (Electronics Division, 1933)
116 W. Sixth St., Emporium, PA (1937)

Sylvania Electric Products, Inc. (1942-1959)
500 Fifth Ave., New York 18, NY (Executive Offices, 1946)
Emporium, PA (1949)
254 Rano St., Buffalo 7, NY (Radio and Television Division, 1953)
1740 Broadway, New York 19, NY (Lightning Products Division, 1957)

Sylvania Electric Products Inc., Subsidiary of GT&E (1959-1971)
100 Sylvan Rd., Woburn, MA (Semiconductor Division,1959)
1740 Broadway, New York 19, NY (Electronics Tubes Division, 1960)
60 Boston St., Salem, MA. (Lightning Division, 1963)

GTE Sylvania Incorporated (1971-1993)
700 Ellicott St., Batavia, NY (Entertainment Products Group, 1972)
100 First Ave., Waltham, MA 02154 (Sylvania Electronic Components, 1974)
70 Empire Dr., West Seneca, NY 14224 (1975)
100 Endicott St., Danvers, MA 01923 (GTE Sylvania Lighting, 1989)

Founded: 1924
Production: 1924 -
Documents about this manufacturer/brand
  Sylvania Substitution Manual a copy from 5800 KB

The standard range of radio panel/dial lamps was made at the Salem factory.

Sylvania traces its roots back to 1901, when young entrepreneur Frank Poor became a partner in Merrit Mfg. Co. in Middleton, MA, that renewed burned-out light bulbs. The company would buy an old bulb for a few cents, cut off the glass tip, replace the filament, and reseal the bulb. Poor soon moved the business to Danvers, bought out his partner, and called his new company Bay State Lamp Company. [1]

The claimed founding year 1901 for Sylvania is misleading, as the name Sylvania first came to use when Nilco formed the Sylvania Products Co. in 1924.

Predecessors of Sylvania are:

  • Merrit Manufacturing Co. (1901) later named Bay State Lamp Co. (1901-1913)
  • Hygrade Incandescent Lamp Co. (1909-1931)
  • Novelty Incandescent Lamp Co. Inc. (1906-1921) and
  • Nilco Lamp Works (1922-1931)

According to the Newcomen Society printed history of Sylvania, Nilco formed Sylvania to make
tubes, considering the business too risky.

The Nilco Company is listed as an RCA licensee by the Wall Street Journal April 8th, 1930 in their "Broad Street Gossip Column". It is to be assumed that Nilco was the licensee because of their majority ownership of Sylvania. Nico is not known to have ever produced tubes.

In Spring of 1924, George Rishell, an engineer at Nilco, was given $500 to find out how to make a radio tube. Sylvania Products Company was formed to manufacture the tubes resulting from that research. On Thanksgiving eve of that same year, the first Sylvania radio tubes were shipped out of Emporium. Tubes sales soon surpassed all expectations and by 1925, Sylvania radio tubes were being nationally advertised. Around 1927, Sylvania managed to attract Robert M. Wise, who had been one of RCA's chief tube designers for many years. In 1928, the company began sponsoring a radio program broadcast to 12 stations nationally. It featured the "Sylvania Foresters," and orchestra composed entirely of employees from the Emporium factory. In 1929, a new factory was built in Emporium and radio tubes became the major part of the Nilco-Sylvania business. [7]

1929: New "Plant Number One" erected in Emporium, Pa.

1931: Hygrade, Nilco and Sylvania representing the company's roots in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania merged to form the Hygrade Sylvania Corporation. The company sold lamps under the Hygrade name, and radio tubes under the Sylvania name. Hygrade Sylvania marketed its first fluorescent lamp in 1938, developing a complete line of fixtures called "Miralume." The Sylvan Street plant was opened in Danvers in 1941 to manufacture fluorescent lamps. [1]

1931: Sylvania Products Co. and Nilco Lamp Works Inc., both in Emporium, Pa., and the Hygrade Lamp Co. of Salem, Mass. announce a consolidation. "Combined sales of these companies amounted to approximately $9,000,000 for the year 1930. The Emporium and Salem units each manfucatures incandescent lamp bulbs and radio tubes. The electric lamp bulbs are manufactured and sold under a license agreement with the General Electric Company. The Sylvania Products Co. and Nilco Lamp Works, Inc., together do about the same volume of business as the Hygrade Lamp Co. Both the Sylvania and Hygrade brands are widely known and accpetd in the fields in which they operate." [3]

Post merger, Hygrade Sylvania was the second largest producer of radio tubes, following RCA, and the third largest manufacturer of large-style incandescent lamps after General Electric and Westinghouse. Combined executive and sales offices were opened in January 1933 on the 50th floor of 500 Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street in New York. However, offices were maintained in Salem and Emporium and both parts continued to operate semi-independently. [7]

1933: Formation of a new Electronics Department in Clifton, N.J.

In 1942, the company changed its name to Sylvania Electric Products, Inc., and debuted the "flashing S" logo. The 1940s and 1950s witnessed enormous growth, as new plants were opened. The company increased its production of materials and components, phosphors and metals, for example, used in and other products. Sylvania also expanded into consumer electronics, television tubes and radios. [1]

In 1954, Sylvania completed construction of their largest facility, a 422,000 square foot television-set assembly plant in Batavia, New York. In 1956, Sylvania pioneered the 110 degree picture tube and receivers. Also in 1956, Sylvania acquired Argus Cameras, Inc., who was at the time, the worlds largest manufacturer of 35mm cameras. In 1957, Sylvania teamed with Corning Glass Works to form Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Corporation (Sylcor) and a new commercial fuel-element plant was built in Hicksville, New York. At the same time, the Electronics Division in Woburn, Massachusetts, was divided into two new organizations, the Semiconductor Division and Special Tube Operations. [7]

In 1959, Sylvania merged with General Telephone. The new company became known as General Telephone & Electronics and later, GTE. In 1965, the company's division opened its Danvers headquarters. In the 1970s and 1980s, the division gradually moved out of consumer electronics to focus on and precision materials. [1]

1960: "Sylvania Electronics Systems, a division of Sylvania Electric Products Inc., has announced plans for a new Applied Research Laboratory facility and new headquarters building, each totalling approximately 45,000 square feet, on a 55-acre site adjacent to present division facilities in Waltham, Mass." [2]

In June 1967, Sylvania acquired Ultronic Systems Corp. of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and placed it in a newly formed operating group, Sylvania Information Systems, which also included the Commercial Electronics Division in Bedford, Massachusetts. Later in September 1967, Sylvania bought Wilbur B. Driver Co. of Newark, New Jersey, and again placed it in a newly formed operating group, Sylvania Metal and Chemicals, along with Sylvania's Chemical and Metallurgical and Parts Divisions. In August 1969 [8], GT&E International acquired controlling interest in SABA GmbH of West Germany and Vidéon SA of France.. Wireless Products, Ltd. of Hong Kong was also acquired and renamed Sylvania Far East, Ltd. [7]

1973: "The Electronic Components Group of GTE Sylvania has announced the production of its three-billionth electronic tube. Such tubes were first produced by the company in 1924. Today, the Electronic Components Group operates eight manufacturing plants and four laboratories. In addition to receiving tubes, the group manufactures color and monochrome TV picture tubes, circuit assemblies, PC boards, and broadband communications equipment for cable TV." [4]

1975: "GTE Sylvania and Philco-Ford jointly announced an agreement under which the former would acquire the Philco name and distribution rights for home entertainment products manufactured by Philco-Ford's Home Products Division, and sold in the U.S. and Canada. The agreement does not involve Philco-Ford's line of home refrigerators and freezers, its Telesound operations, or its automotive products." [5]

1980: "North American Philips Corp. has agreed in principle to acquire GTE's U.S. consumer electronics business, subject to approval by the firms' directors. No purchase price was announced
for the deal, which is expected to be finalized sometime this month. Included in the agreement are GTE's Sylvania and Philco brands of TV receivers, picture tubes, and other components, plus a component manufacturing operation in Juarez, Mexico and sales, service, and distribution facilities
in the U.S. and Canada. The Sylvania and Philco brand names will be maintained, according to Frank L. Randall Jr., vice chairman of North American Philips." [6]

1980/81: With considerable losses GTE divested its European subsidiaries SABA and Vidéon and sold them to the French Thomson-Brandt.

1993: Osram Sylvania in its current form was created in January 1993, when Osram GmbH acquired the Sylvania and precision materials businesses in North America from GTE. The company remains a global leader in innovative products and services. [1]

[1] =, retrieved Nov. 2014
[2] = Electronics World, July 1960
[3] = Radio Engineering, June 1931
[4] = Popular Electronics, August 1973
[5] = Popular Electronics, January 1975
[6] = Broadcast Engineering, December 1980
[7] =, retrieved Nov. 2014
[8] = Opera Mundi Europe, August 28, 1969

Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
USA  50 1-250 Ch= 1-215 12BE6  The Sylvania Model 1-250 is an AC/DC operated AM Superheterodyne Receiver with Loop Anten... 
USA  50 1-251 Ch= 1-215 12BE6  The Sylvania Model 1-251 is an AC/DC operated AM Superheterodyne Receiver with Loop Anten... 
USA  50 1-252 Ch= 1-215 12BE6  The Sylvania Model 1-252 is an AC/DC operated AM Superheterodyne Receiver with Loop Anten... 
USA  55 178B Ch= 1-603-1 6AU6   
USA  55 178BU Ch= 1-603-1 6AU6   
USA  55 178MU Ch= 1-603-1 6AU6   
USA  52 1CF743 Ford #1A-18805-B 6SK7GT  Vibrator for +B 
USA  52 1CF743-1 Ford 1A-18805 6SK7GT  Vibrator for +B 
USA  52 1CH748 Lincoln #1H-18805 6SK7GT  Vibrator for +B 
USA  52 1CH748-1 Lincoln 1H-18805 6SK7GT  Vibrator for +B 
USA  52 1CM747 Mercury #1M-18805 6SK7GT  Vibrator for +B 
USA  52 1CM747-1 Mercury 1M-18805 6SK7GT  Vibrator for +B 


Further details for this manufacturer by the members (rmfiorg):

Scanned from the Radio Retailing September 1946 page 116.tbn_rr_sep_46_p116.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing September 1946 page 117.tbn_rr_sep46_p117.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1947 page 112.tbn_rr_jan47_p112_add1.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing January 1947 page 113.tbn_rr_jan47_p113_add2.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing February 1947 page 120.tbn_rr_feb47_p120.jpg
Scanned from the Radio Retailing February 1947 page 121.tbn_rr_feb47_p121.jpg
Werbung aus 1929tbn_usa_sylvania_tubes.jpg
B&W pictute tube produced in Brazil by Sylvania. Advertising from 1961tbn_br_sylvania_1961_tube1.jpg
B&W pictute tube produced in Brazil by Sylvania. Advertising from 1961tbn_br_sylvania_1961_tube2.jpg
This is page 1 of 2 of a Sylvania Radio Tubes Price List dated Sept 1, 1933.tbn_sylvania_tube_price_list1.jpg
This is page 2 of 2 of a Sylvania Radio Tubes Price List dated Sept 1, 1933.tbn_sylvania_tube_price_list2.jpg
Broadcast Engineering advert. Undatedtbn_hygrade_sylvania_advert_undated.png
Radio News January 1926tbn_sylvania_rn126.jpg
Broadcast Engineering December 1933tbn_sylvania_xmtg_broadcast_engineering_1233.png
Radio News October 1925tbn_sylvaniarn1025.png
Simmonds Hardware Co, Chigago, catalog ad c. 1932tbn_sylvania_advert.jpg
Sylvania tube price list May 25, 1949 - covertbn_sylvania_price_list_5_25_1949.png
Sylvania Price List May 25, 1949tbn_sylvania_price_list_5_25_1949_page2.png
Sylvania dealers advert c. 1936tbn_sylvania_dealers_public.jpg
Sylvania metal sign - date unknown.tbn_sylvania_metal_sign.jpg


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