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W.G.Pye and Co. Ltd. was founded in 1896 by William George Pye, an employee of the Cavendish Laboratory, as a part time business making scientific instruments. During World War 1, it became involved in the manufacture of experimental thermionic valves. This gave the company the technical knowledge it needed to develop it's first wireless, when the first UK broadcasts were made by the BBC in 1922. The company started a wireless components factory in Chesterton and the receivers it made were given positive reviews by Popular Wireless magazine.

In 1924, Harold Pye, son of the founder, and Edward Appleton, his former tutor at St. John's College, designed a new series of receivers which became even more popular. In 1928, William Pye sold the company, now renamed Pye Radio Ltd. to Charles Orr Stanley, who established a chain of small component manufacturing factories across East Anglia. In 1937, following the start of television broadcasting at Alexandra Palace, Pye produced a sensitive 5 inch television receiver, priced at 22. By 1939, it had sold over 2,000 sets at an average price of 34.

During the second World War, it became involved in the manufacture of radar receivers and army radio equipment.


After the war, it continued to produce communications equipment and domestic radio and television sets. The company developed the first British transistor in 1956 (marketed by a subsidiary, Newmarket Transistors). Based on these transistors, the first British transistor radio, the Pam 710, was developed shortly afterwards. (Pam was also a subsidiary of Pye).

By 1966, the company found itself in financial difficulties due to cheaper Far Eastern imports and sold a 60% shareholding to Philips. In 1976, the company was fully taken over by Philips, who continued to produce television and audio equipment using the Pye name.

This page was last edited on 09.08.2019