View Single Post
Old 29th Mar 2017, 12:07 pm   #7
Hartley118's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Cambridge, Cambs. UK.
Posts: 2,201
Default Re: I'm rather impressed with Philips - where did they learn to design like they did?

The remarkable achievement of Philips is that they are still alive, well and reputable after well over a century. Even today, which is the 'go to' reliable brand of LED lamp? Philips, just like in 1891, but then it had a carbon filament. Very few companies can boast that longevity.

In my youth, I remember being rather impressed by the sensitivity of my small 1930s Philips TRF radio - I guess it was a 'Superinductance' model - typically different from most other manufacturers who were building superhets at the time. Regrettably I didn't then show it the respect it was due: I converted it intto a guitar amp and sold it to a friend!

I was bemused though by the eccentricity of pre-war Philips sets - and I still am - with their curious black resistors of values different from anyone else's. And ISTR they were labelled to 3 significant figures. I still don't know why

To respond to Mr Bungle's original question, I guess that Philips' high standard of documentation derives from being a big company with professional Technical Publications departments following clearly specified internal standards. I'm sure that being a Philips Technical Author is a respected career in its own right rather than that irritating afterthought role that documentation has in many smaller companies.

The excellent question 'Ultimately I'd love to find out where people learned design and engineering of this class? Books, courses, information. Anything appreciated. We did absolutely nothing of the sort when I did electrical engineering at university.' is relevant to engineers in many companies. The company's body of technical experience is crucial, summarised as 'This is how we do things around here'. Any designer departing from an approach known to work would soon be put right by his/her supervisor or an experienced draughtsman or production engineer.

The remarkable Philips achievement has been to maintain a high level of innovation in parallel with valuing its body of technical knowledge. Not only did Philips invent the CD, they came up with smaller relevant component innovations such as the TDA1034 IC for professional audio, combining low noise with the ability to drive a 600 ohm load. A brief anecdote: I recall participating in a seminal discussion in 1976 between Alex Balster in Philips studios design lab and Rupert Neve in our Cambridge lab - we were debating whether the TDA1034 (now NE5534) was ready to replace discrete circuitry in professional audio. We decided to go ahead with the new Philips IC and didn't regret it.

BVWS Member
Hartley118 is offline