Philips may be a somewhat diminished force in today’s tech world, but the Dutch company has, over its 123 years of history, been a major player in radio tech, audio, cassettes, CDs, TV and -- perhaps most famously -- the humble lightbulb. CNET paid a visit to the prestigious Philips Museum in Eindhoven, and now presents the most fascinating exhibits for your viewing pleasure. Click through to check out the cutting-edge tech of yesteryear.
Philips was founded in 1891 by Gerard and Frederik Philips. Four years later the younger Anton Philips joined the fledgling company, and in 1898 Philips secured its first big international order -- 50,000 lightbulbs for the Tsar of Russia.
Knowing how to make lightbulbs made Philips able to experiment with other industries. This complex glass contraption for instance is an X-ray bulb…
…while this much smaller component is a radio valve…
...and this giant, eye-like object is an early TV bulb. The clear plastic shows where the front of the set would have been positioned.
This photo shows the first workers in Philips’ factory, the site of which now houses the museum itself. Note that children are not exempt from factory labour.
This room is a reconstruction of the original factory, showing some of the equipment that would have been used in early lightbulb manufacture.
At the time, electric lighting was only for the wealthier classes. A single bulb would have cost a factory worker their week’s wages.
In this latter, sent in 1933, Anton Philips petitioned the Queen’s private secretary about using the company’s sodium lamps for street lighting.
This is one of Philips’ oldest carbon-filament lightbulbs, dating back to 1897.
Moving on to 1912, examine this far more intricate metal-filament bulb.
A close-up shot lets you peek at the remarkably thin filament.
Leaping entire decades now, this is a halogen lamp from 1982 -- much more recognisable…
…while this early energy-saving lamp is from 1985. Much better for the environment, but not quite so stylish as the vintage models.
Today Philips makes LED bulbs. This prizewinning effort was concocted as recently as 2011. Moving on from lightbulbs now to Philips’ second most-notable trade…
…radio. In 1927 Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands used a Philips shortwave radio to address an audience live in the Dutch East Indies.
The same year saw the first Philips radio. A boxy, yet reasonably compact affair.
Though technology has changed a lot since 1927, Philips hasn’t done much to tweak its logo.
This early radio wasn’t exactly portable. To work, it also required this power supply.
And this round loudspeaker too.
By 1931 however, radio tech had progressed significantly. This is one of Philips’ most famous inventions, one of the first radios with a built-in loudspeaker. Thanks to its iconic shape, this radio earned the nickname, "The Chapel".
These stars and radio waves that adorn the front of the Chapel radio can still be seen on the Philips logo today.
This radio from 1950 introduced FM (frequency modulation), which has much less interference than the earlier AM (amplitude modulation).
It didn’t quite achieve the iconic status of the Chapel, but this 1931 model was actually Philips’ first radio with a built-in loudspeaker.
1950 also saw Philips put its first TV set on sale in the Netherlands. This boxy unit was nicknamed the "Hondehok", meaning "dog kennel".
The transistor made it possible for radios to become much smaller. This transistor radio dates back to 1957.
Philips debuted the cassette tape in 1963. It would go on to become a wildly popular medium for recorded music, and in 1966 Philips showed off this radio/cassette player.
This early colour TV dates from 1967.
This 2012 iPod and iPhone dock is much more modern, but is notable for being based on the design of Philips’ 1955 Philetta 254 radio, visible just behind.
Philips has a long history of health tech. This intimidating contraption is a portable X-ray machine from the 1920s.
Fast forward to the present, and you get the kitten scanner. This object isn’t, as the name suggests, built to scan your pets -- it’s not actually a medical device at all, in fact. Rather it sits in waiting rooms, giving kids a chance to play with, and get used to, the idea of an MRI machine, hopefully making the process of having a scan a little less unsettling.
This is a page from the Philips Kourier. The paper was sent by Anton Philips to the minister of social affairs in 1948, when it became clear that Philips’ methods for screening its employees for tuberculosis was working. The paper claims that mortality due to TB was a third lower among Philips personnel than among the general public.
Anton Philips’ passport, used on his successful trip to Russia in 1898.
Back to the tech now, meet the CD100, the first CD player available in Europe.
A side-view of the CD100.
The cassette wasn’t Philips’ only format victory. The company co-developed the popular compact disc in a joint effort with Sony.
This is a compact cassette recorder, from 1963. Note the chunky microphone.
This cutaway view of a 1928 radio receiver lets you peek at its complicated insides.
This is the Philora, a sodium lamp with a ceramic base from 1933. Another bulb is visible in the background.
Philips is active in bathroom tech, particularly shavers and trimmers. This is the "small egg" head shaver, from 1947.
This Norelco Philishave dates back to 1973.
This simple, rather elegant retro shaver is the Philishave, from 1939.
This aerial map of Eindhoven shows notable Philips institutions. Philips’ influence and history is tied into that of the city itself, from street names to entire tracts of housing. There’s a Philips stadium, while after the war Austria built houses in Eindhoven in exchange for potatoes and Philips radios. Oh, and a statue of Anton Philips stands outside the town’s train station.
A classic Philips television on show. Families would gather to watch TV on a screen not much larger than an iPad.
The museum serves as a reminder of Philips’ past glories.
Although it's fair to say that today, its influence and power is much diminished. Philips will be hoping that the advent of smart home and health technology can give it back its edge.
A close-up view of the Philips logo underneath the classic TV set.
This interesting gadget from 1957 is a portable record player… for cars. When you inserted a 45rpm record, it would play automatically.
Philips also tried its hand at cameras. The Photoflux camera from 1949 was made from Philips’ own-brand version of bakelite, dubbed "Philite".
This steam-train-resembling piece of tech is Philips’ first vacuum cleaner, dating back to 1951.
Meet the Infraphil, a heat lamp from 1970, designed to help with muscle pains.
Philips missed a trick when it came to video cassettes -- this 1979 recorder uses the company’s ill-fated Video Compact Cassette (VCC) tapes, marketed as Video 2000. It went head-to-head with VHS and Betamax, but failed to challenge either.
Here’s a close-up shot of the 1979 Video 2000 videocassette recorder.
This 1963 player was built to commemorate production of the three-millionth Philips EL3300 cassette player. Swanky, non?
The player was introduced in 1963, but cassette tapes would remain popular well into the nineties.
This 1988 Sky Liner 3 is a stereo radio/cassette player. Its bright colours were a ploy to target the youth, and take on Sony’s Walkman.
Another stab at wooing younger consumers, the "Roller Radio" is from 1986, and was designed to resemble roller-skate wheels.
A much less colourful effort, this car telephone from 1989 featured a handset, transmitter-receiver and an external antenna.
This old Philips badge proudly states "made in Holland", though production of its technology would eventually move to China.
A Philips boombox. Noisy.
This luminous glove was designed for Michael Jackson to use on tour, and would glow in time with the music. The singer died before the glove was ever used, however.
Philips even tried its hand at games consoles.
A colourful Philips record player on show in the museum.
It would be quicker to name the kinds of gadgets that Philips didn’t build. This is a retro Philips camcorder.
The company even built an early home computer.
A close-up of the keys and Philips logo.
Moving once more into the present, this Philips medical scanner looks wholly futuristic.
This display explains that LED lights can be tuned for specific crops to make them grow faster.
One of the last exhibits in the museum is Philips' Hue lighting tech, which lets you control the colour mixture of your lights.
As you move towards the gift shop, there’s a chance to examine some retro Philips posters. Perhaps the company should try bringing cats back into its marketing materials.
Err, perhaps not clowns, though. Thanks for reading, folks! Stay tuned to CNET for all your tech needs.