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Beeld en geluid

Radio and TV

In 1919 the first radio broadcast in the world were transmitted in the Netherlands. Other countries soon followed. The emergence of public radio stations caused a huge increase in the demand for radios.

Smaller and cheaper

The first devices were still made by hand and large, with expensive cabinetry.  With the advent of bakelite, radios quickly became smaller and much cheaper. They were within most everyone’s financial reach. One of the pictures also shows the first television made of bakelite: the ‘Bush’ TV. The design of the cabinet was in “streamline’ style and had a 9 inch screen.


In 1923 Philips began a phenol-formaldehyde plant in Eindhoven as the first in the Netherlands. Since bakelite was a protected name until 1927 and inventor Dr. Baekeland sued anyone who infringed upon his patents and trademarks Philips initially called his product “Philite.”

If a Philips employee dared still to use the word “Bakelite”, he had to pay a fine of a quarter.

The company made, in addition to many other products, many loudspeakers and was for a long period the largest plastic manufacturer in the Netherlands. In 1929 Philips founded a large factory in what was called the Clock Building, which for many years determined the skyline of Eindhoven.


The round pancake-shaped speakers were made with bakelite® powder filled with ground fabric. The mold was dusted with copper sulphide for pressing, causing a varied surface. Only a few hundred a week were produced.

Photography and film

The photography and film industry owe much to the invention of celluloid. Before that time photos were made by applying a layer of silver nitrate on a solid sheet of metal or glass. The first cameras had to be very large.

The first compact camera

The American Hannibal Goodwin discovered how to make a thin, transparent film from celluloid. A chemist from Kodak then developed a picture on celluloid film. In 1885 Kodak released the first compact camera, which revolutionized photography. From 1930 on many companies started making simple cameras of the phenolic resin Bakelite.