A Century of Illumination

OSRAM SYLVANIA's leadership in the industry results from our proud legacy, which extends back to the dawn of the twentieth century, and points the way for continued success in years to come. In fact, the history of our company parallels the evolution of electric and its technological advances over the course of the twentieth century. It's a story rich in scientific discovery and successful entrepreneurship, which spans both sides of the Atlantic. Join us on a brief journey into OSRAM SYLVANIA's history.

   SYLVANIA History 


Thomas A. Edison invented the modern incandescent light bulb in 1879, though inventors on both sides of the Atlantic had worked on artificial light sources for many years. Use of the light bulb spread, spurred on by achievements in electrical engineering led by Germany's Werner von Siemens, whose company perfected a light bulb in 1880.

SYLVANIA traces its roots back to 1901, when young entrepreneur Frank Poor became a partner in a small company 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. His brothers soon joined him in the enterprise.

The OSRAM name was registered in 1906 by Auer-Gesellschaft. The name OSRAM derives from the names of two elements: Osmium, a metal; and Wolfram, the German word for tungsten. The company had been a pioneer in the development of the Osmium lamp and the tungsten filament lamp.

The Poor brothers started the Hygrade Incandescent Lamp Company in 1909 to sell new carbon-filament light bulbs and, by 1911, tungsten filament light bulbs. The Bay State refilling operation was soon discontinued. In 1916, Hygrade opened a new plant and headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, which could turn out 16,000 lamps a day.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the Novelty Incandescent Lamp Company had been formed in 1906 to make novelty lights and refill old light bulbs. After several transitions, the company was finally purchased in 1922 by entrepreneur Bernard Erskine and two associates, who founded the Nilco Lamp Works. In 1924, Nilco formed the Sylvania Products Company to make receiving tubes for another new invention that would change the world: the radio.

As a company, OSRAM traces its roots to 1919. OSRAM was the result of a merger between three companies: AEG, Siemens & Halske AG, and Auer-Gesellschaft. All three companies had been pioneers in the development of electric light.

In 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.

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.

OSRAM debuted its famous tagline, "OSRAM Bright as daylight," in 1949, as the company focused on reconstruction and expansion in a new Europe. Plants were expanded, and new facilities were opened. OSRAM relocated its headquarters to Munich in 1954.

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.

In recent decades, SYLVANIA and OSRAM developed products with longer life, better light and greater energy efficiency. Important advances were made in the development of discharge lamp technology. In the 1980s, the SYLVANIA OCTRON® fluorescent lamp and the OSRAM DULUX® compact fluorescent lamp represented major innovations.

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.


   OSRAM History  


110 years of OSRAM - From the light bulb to networked and intelligent light.

“In the beginning there was light …” – true, but our company is not quite that old yet. Even so, we can look back on an eventful history filled with technological bright spots. Our journey began with the registration of the OSRAM wordmark at the Imperial Patent Office in Berlin in 1906. Since then, OSRAM has been constantly evolving and has reinvented light over and over again – from conventional lamps through to gas-discharge lamps and LED light to laser and invisible light. The current portfolio ranges from high-tech to networked intelligent applications.

This is why the OSRAM brand traditionally stands for quality and innovation. The company first came to prominence in the 1920’s with technologically superior products and an expansive company policy. By the 1950’s, OSRAM had succeeded in reaching the top of the industrial sector in light as a leader in technology. In 1954, the company headquarters was moved from Berlin to Munich, where OSRAM spent the following decades as the leading force in driving the development of countless innovative lighting technologies forward.

A historic turning point in the OSRAM story came in 1999. In order to enter the highly-promising semiconductor market, the company acquired the LED division of the former parent company, Siemens. OSRAM struck gold with this strategic decision - in the 21st century, lighting and other future technologies is increasingly based on semiconductors. The potential applications are practically unlimited. Development of these applications continues unabated. From laser light technology which is currently revolutionizing the automotive industry to industrial applications, the growth potential is truly infinite.

110 years ago we were a domestic company, the very model of inventive enterprise, though we have long since become a global company. We draw inspiration for our products and systems from around the world. We are a company that invents the future. We are the sum of many, forward thinking people turning possibility into reality. On average we register two patents every day. Yet we are more than simply the sum of our workforce. Just as important are the goals and ideas of our customers and partners. We listen carefully where there are needs and opportunities and these give our ideas direction and a commercial basis.

Our story so far is, however, simply the prelude to the new strategic direction of the company. We have reinvented ourselves on our journey from integrated lighting manufacturer to lighting technology provider. With the future-oriented innovation and growth initiative “Diamond” we have created the foundation for sustainable growth. Our capacity for innovation is being deployed in new fields, the commercial utilization of chip fabrication expertise and novel applications in the visible and invisible light spectrum being examples of how the next chapter in the OSRAM success story could unfold.

With an economic realignment, well-judged investments and concentration on three strategic pillars, the long-established company OSRAM is today in excellent shape to face the challenges of the digital age. Innovation, quality, and cutting edge technology will also ensure that OSRAM retains its position at the pinnacle of light-based technology multinationals in the future.


   Our Strategy Moving Forward  


In fiscal year 2015 we made key decisions and took steps to strategically realign our company.

Our core values are shaped by over a century of company history, during which we have played a key role in driving forward lighting technology. In the past, we have developed new products and established applications - such as automotive lighting or projection - based for example on filament, halogen, or high-pressure discharge technologies. The global lighting market’s transition toward semiconductor-based products is continuing Trends in the Lighting Market. In the future, technology - and innovation-led applications will be based on semiconductor technologies.

The technology shift has been increasingly impacting and disrupting the lighting value chain. This trend will split the lighting industry markets going forward: on the one hand into volume-driven markets, where consistently high quality and cost efficiency are the crucial competitive factors, and on the other hand into technology markets for professional applications that are characterized by innovation, customer-specific solutions and sustainable growth.

We have decided to shift our strategic focus and move from being an integrated light manufacturer to a dedicated lighting technology provider. In line with this, we plan both to expand our expertise in chip production and to further enhance conversion of our innovative strength in the area of new applications in the visible and invisible light spectrum - such as laser lights in automotive lighting or light-based sensors in security technology - into business success in the future.