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.
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
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.