Tungsram’s legal precursor, United Electrical Ltd., was founded 123 years ago when the owners of a firm called the First Austro-Hungarian Electric Lighting and Power Transmitting Factory (Erste österreichisch-ungarische Fabrik für elektrische Beleuchtung und Kraftübertragung Egger B. & Co./Első Osztrák-Magyar Villamvilágítási és Erőátviteli Gyár Egger B. és Társa) established a new firm, the United Electrical Ltd., with new funding.
The owners, the Egger brothers and their business partners, put up their factories in Vienna and Budapest as their contribution to the new company, and the Hungarian Commercial Bank of Pest became the owner of one-third of the new firm’s stock shares. With fresh capital the dynamic new venture was able to finance the development of both the mechanical department and incandescent lamp production. In March 1906 the corporation’s name was changed to United Incandescent and Electrical Ltd., thus declaring the growing importance of the lighting department. (It was only in 1984 when the popular brand name, Tungsram, became the name of the company.)
That year of Tungsram’s foundation, 1896, also happened to be the year of the Hungarian Millennial celebration. As the host of the Millennial National Exhibition – celebrating the arrival of the Hungarian tribes into the Carpathian basin 1,000 years before – Budapest was a booming city; it was said to have been the second most dynamic metropolis of the time, just after Chicago (Chicago had hosted the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893). For this Hungarian celebration, Budapest, the second capital of the Dual Monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, put into operation the European continent’s first underground (subway) line, along with various other prestigious infrastructure projects that had been completed for the celebration.
The pictures represent how Tungsram benefited of and contributed to this boom. The first picture presents the relatively small Tungsram staff in Budapest probably from the time of forming the public company in 1896. (Mechanical department: administrative, commercial and technical staff and ca. 50 workers; Incandescent Lamp Factory, in 1897 merged into United Electrical Ltd., in 1894/1895: 140 persons). In the middle of the picture, we see technical director József Pintér, the second on his left is the young Lipót Aschner, CEO of Tungsram 1921-1944. The second picture depicts a bronze plaquette of the principal buildings of the new plant in Újpest, built in 1900-1901. The very size of these buildings demonstrates Tungsram’s rapid development at the turn of the century.
In 1896, the United Electrical Ltd. company cultivated all kinds of business related to the electrical industry. This production profile, however, was soon narrowed down to a well-defined set of low-current products (telephone and telegraph equipment, telephone centers, railway safety equipment) and incandescent lamps. Between the two world wars, the production of radio tubes became the second main line of mass production. After the WWII, as far as the commercial and technical curtailments of the Cold War allowed, Tungsram kept pace with both the development of the lighting industry (i.e. developing capabilities to supply whole lighting systems for sport facilities) and the telecommunication industry via providing vacuum technological mass products such as television tubes and developing semi-conductors, transistors, as well as various electron tubes. Tungsram became a principal supplier of vacuum-technological machines, producing mainly for the socialist countries, as well as for the developing nations.
Today, the autonomous Tungsram Group is again opening new business fields contributing to Hungary’s economic development and providing smart (lighting) solutions to its partners everywhere in the world.
Source of the pictures: Koroknai, Ákos, (ed.), A Tungsram Rt. története 1896-1996. Aschner Lipót Alapítvány, Budapest, 2004, 9/ Tungsram Heritage Collection, Legacy by dr. Pál Horváth, Technical vice-CEO