Our History

Hans Peek
When Philips started manufacturing incandescent lamps in 1891, there was already a separate industrial research laboratory outside the factory; a concept virtually unknown elsewhere. In 1914, another major step was taken with the opening of a physics laboratory (the 'Nat. Lab.'). Under the leadership of Dr Gilles Holst, the Philips Research organization became a major center of technical competence and innovation.

From 1914-1945
1914 to 1945 saw considerable growth and diversification. Improvements were made to the incandescent lamp, and gas discharge lamps proved more efficient in generating light. Meanwhile our 'bulb expertise' led to new products such as the X-ray tube and the radio valve. The invention of the pentode gave Philips an important patent in radio. In 1923, Philips decided to become a 'systems supplier' instead of a 'components company', and consequently the research organization broadened its scope into radio as well as television.

After World War II there was a period of expansion. The sky was the limit. Television built on research carried out in the 30s became a mass-produced consumer phenomenon. The invention of the transistor by Bell Labs changed the world of electronics forever. We built up a strong patent position in magnetic materials, and contributed many breakthroughs such as the LOCOS process (LOCal Oxidation of Silicon), used in every modern Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (MOS) IC, the rotary heads for the Philishave electric shaver (1950s), and the compact audio cassette (1963), a breakthrough in audio recording. Research laboratories in England, France, Germany and the USA were founded.

From 1970 to the present day, our research has been tied much more closely to our industrial and business activities. This resulted in revolutionary developments such as the introduction of the CD, the DVD and Blu-ray Disc. In the medical sphere we made great strides forward in magnetic-resonance imaging and ultrasound, and with our increasing focus on health and well-being, these developments are still ongoing: in 2006, we saw the first commercial launch of a 3D scanner.

In that same year, we sold 80% of our Semiconductors business as a new independent company, NXP, was created. We also adopted Open Innovation as our way of working: the High Tech Campus Eindhoven was opened up to external companies.

At Philips Research, we continue to focus on meaningful innovations that improve people’s lives. Ambilight, for example, has brought a whole new dimension to TV viewing, and in 2007, we developed Lumiramic – a groundbreaking new phosphor technology for energy-efficient white LEDs – together with our partners.
The future of Philips Research

Philips Research will remain an important driving force in realizing Philips’ vision to become an even more market-driven and people-centric health and well-being company. We do this by continually evaluating key issues and trends in society to ensure that people’s needs are at the heart of our innovations, now and in the future.

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Did you know?
In 1914, Dr Gilles Holst became the first true researcher in Philips.