Mullard Equipment Ltd
MEL, or Mullard, or Mullard Equipment Ltd., was a British
manufacturer and supplier of electronic components and equipment.
The company was well-known from the 1920s onwards for its production of radio
valves (tubes). The company later became part of
and by the mid-1990s it was one of the largest defence contractors of the UK.
It is currently part of Thales.
Although Mullard is mainly known as a manufacturer of electronic components,
such as diodes and transistors,
they also produced professional equipment and even cryptographic parts.
In the early 1960s, for example, Mullard subsidary Egan Electric on Canvey
Island (UK) produced the wheels for the
British Singlet cipher machine.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s
MEL produced the PRC-319 Radio
and the BA-1304 crypto/message unit
under contract with the UK government.
MEL equipment on this website
MEL, or Mullard Equipment Ltd, was a British manufacturer and supplier of
electronic components and equipment, founded in 1920 by Captain Stanley
R. Mullard, as the Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd.
Initially, the company was located in Southfields (London), but was moved
to Balham in 1923 .
That year, Mullard teamed up with Philips, in order to meet
the technical demands of the BBC when manufacturing valves (tubes).
In 1927, Mullard became a full daughter of NV Philips 1 .
Two years later, in 1929, founder Stanley Mullard resigned as Managing
Director, but stayed connected with the company (as a director) until his
retirement in 1970 (aged 87). He died on 1 September 1979 at the age of 95.
Until the early 1960s, the company traded under
the name Mullard Equipment Ltd. as the abbreviation MEL was still owned by
a confectionary company.
By the early 1960s, MEL had a wide variety of unrelated product groups.
This was rationalised after Philips took over 2 the Pye Group in 1966 .
Pye subsidary EKCO Avionics was moved from Southend to Crawley, MEL's
TV transposer products were moved to Pye in Cambridge and MEL's Gas
Chromatography products to Pye Unicam. The component manufacturing business
was kept as a separate autonomous enterprice under the name Mullard Ltd.,
in order to circumvent import restrictions on non-UK manufactured parts.
They kept using the old Mullard logo shown above.
In 1963, Philips finally acquired the rights to the abbreviation MEL and changed
the name of the company to the MEL Equipment Company Ltd. From this time onwards,
the name MEL was no longer seen as an abbreviation.
Towards the end of its existence,
MEL ceased to be a registered company and became
MEL Division of Philips Electronics and Associated Intustries Ltd.
In late 1989, MEL was sold to Thorn EMI and the
site at Crawley (near London) became part of the Sensors Division of Thorn EMI.
By the mid-1990s, Thorn EMI had become one of the biggest defence contractors
of the United Kingdom. In 1995, the various defence-related businesses were sold,
and the MEL communications business became part of
The site at Crawley still exists but has been redeveloped and in now
incorporated into the Thales site.
Philips had already acquired 50% of the Mullard shares in 1924,
a year after the start of their cooperation, when Mullard needed funds
to expand his company. Philips bought the remaining 50% in 1927 .
Philips attempted to acquire the ailing Pye company in 1966, but was only
allowed to buy 60% of the shares in order to prevent a monopoly. The
remaining 40% of the shares were acquired by Philips in 1976.
Over the years, the MEL business has been known under the following names:
- Mullard Radio Valve Co. Ltd
- Mullard 1
- Mullard Ltd. 1
- Mullard Electronic Products Ltd.
- Mullard Equipment Ltd.
- MEL Equipment Company Ltd.
- MEL Division of Philips Electronics and Associated Industries Ltd.
- Thorn EMI (MEL Division)
- MEL Communications (part of Thomson-CSF) 2
- Thales Communications
Note that Mullard Ltd. was a separate company to MEL, also under Philips
ownership. It was a component manufacturer that also handled the import
of Philips components that were not made in the UK. It also acted as the
'commercial interface' between MEL and Philips in The Netherlands.
The company was also known as Mullard Electronic Products Ltd.
MEL Communication was later merged with Thomson's other communications
buisiness, Redifon Radio, and was renamed to Redifon-MEL. This combined
comms business was later moved to Thales Communications.
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 17 May 2010. Last changed: Tuesday, 28 November 2017 - 22:32 CET.