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In the late 1880's the firm G. Binswanger & Co. was founded by the brothers Gustav and Max Binswanger together with their colleague Hugo Hirst. Later on the name was changed to General Electric Apparatus Company. The company started producing telephones and electric bells in a factory in Manchester. In 1889 the name was changed again to General Electric Company Limited; headquarters were moved to London. In 1893 production of electric light bulbs started. In 1913, GEC commissioned the building of a new headquarters in London: Magnet House. Because of the First World War, the building was not finished until 1921. During the war GEC made "R" valves carrying the trade mark Osram. In 1919 a new company was formed, together with Marconi: Marconi-Osram Valve Co.
In the beginning of the 1920s, GEC was ready for the start of the radio era in Great Britain. The company produced radios, loudspeakers, headphones and amplifiers for a wide range of customers.
On October 18, 1922, the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was set up by a consortium of radio receiver manufacturers (Western Electric, Marconi, General Electric, British Thomson-Houston, Radio Communication and Metropolitan Vickers) for regular broadcasting of programmes of speech and music, but the spread of broadcasting was more or less held back by the need to obtain a receiving licence from the Postmaster-General.          
2LO aerials on the roof of Selfridges in Oxford Street, London.
On November 1 1922, the first ten-shilling (18 Euro in today's money) broadcasting receiving licence was introduced. Two weeks later, on Tuesday 14th, its first daily programmes from London (station 2LO) started from Marconi House. On January 18, 1923, the BBC was granted its formal licence to broadcast.

Stations were also opened in Birmingham (5IT), Manchester (2ZY), and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (5NO). In the first year, 2LO, transmitting in the medium wave band, reached an audience of about 18,000 listeners. By October 1923 all of the stations were in operation, and reached about half of the population, with signals that were strong enough to be received by a crystal set. 2LO’s duties were assumed by a new transmitter located at Selfridge’s, Oxford Street, in 1925.

Early BBC Radio stamps
Left: BBC/PMG, used form November 1st, 1922 to September 1924. Centre: BBC/EBM, used from September 1924 to 1927. Right: BBC trademark, used from September 1924 to 1927. On January 1st, 1925 stamp regulations were abolished and firms were no longer obliged to use any BBC stamps.
One of the first radio's to be used at that time was the GeCoPhone Crystal Detector Set No. 1. Built by GEC in 1923.

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