Origins of W.
In 1896, William George Pye left his
employment as workshop
superintendent at the Cavendish Laboratory in
Cambridge and, assisted
by his wife
Annie Eliza Pye, set up W.G. Pye and Company
to design and manufacture
high precision scientific instruments.
William Pye was a
trained instrument maker,
and his equipment
for schools physics lessons were soon in great
demand from centres of
learning and research all over the
world. Gradually he began to
take on staff and in 1913 he moved to larger
premises in Montague Road
which, later (and greatly expanded), formed
part of the Haig Road/St.
complex of first Pye Radio Ltd, then Pye Ltd
and later Pye Telecom.
Pye benefited from the enormous demand for
military equipment during
World War 1,
but by 1921 this market had disappeared.
Short-time working was
introduced as a temporary measure, but the
company also searched for
The Wireless Receiver
The management decided to try the new field of
domestic broadcast wireless receivers and
planned what was Pye's first wireless set;
receive the experimental broadcast signals
then being radiated from
A small number of receivers were produced and,
due to the Company's
were superbly made precision
instruments. Because they were more
with the Post Office specifications than some
of their competitors'
(the Post Office was the type approval
authority) they tended to be
insensitive and therefore did not find a very
William Pye's son, Harold, after graduating
from St. John's College
Cambridge, joined his father, and in 1924
designed the first
commercially successful Pye receivers, the
"700 Series". From then on
the business made good progress and eventually
it became so important
that a separate division called Pye Radio
Limited was formed, with
Orr Stanley appointed to run the business.
New Management at W. G. Pye
C. O. Stanley had previously worked for
Arks Publicity, an
advertising agency, one of whose most
important clients was Stanley
Robert Mullard, who in September 1920 had set
up the Mullard Radio
Valve Co. Limited.
company prospered, and in
1924, in an attempt to solve some problems he
had experienced with
glass-to-metal seals he approached
outcome of the
relationship formed from this liaison was
that by January
1927, Philips had taken over the Mullard
association of Pye with Mullard was, from the
important in terms of the bond of friendship
between C. O. Stanley and
S. R. Mullard, the prices paid for valves and
the technical assistance
exchanged between the two.
Pye family was not happy with the rate of
growth of Pye
Radio Limited and it was suggested that C.O.
Stanley should negotiate
to sell the business to Philips.
1928, C.O. Stanley offered Pye Radio Ltd to
£65,000, of which £5,000 was to be his own
Philips countered by offering £60,000 saying
that the commission
was too high. Stanley, as the manager,
declined to sell and he
himself bought Pye Radio Limited
followed and in 1929 the Haig Road factory, by
called Pye Radio Works, occupied an area of
8,000 square metres.
Pye was producing more than 40,000 radio sets
per year, and had moved
from the early "Tuned Radio Frequency" (TRF)
design of receivers to the
latest "Super-Sonic Heterodyne" (Superhet)
early as 1925, Pye had taken a keen interest
in television, and
in 1930, started developing TV sets and
cathode ray tubes.
1936, when the BBC began the worlds' first
television broadcasts, Pye had already been
making TV sets with a 9"
over a year. The high point of Pye pre
World War II TV
came with the introduction of the Model 915
TV, which was a receiver
of advanced design. By 1939, a
production line had
set up in Cambridge and samples produced.
Pye Model 915 TV receiver was a "straight" or
radio frequency" (TRF) receiver design,
centered on the BBC TV carrier
frequency of 45MHz, and used what at the time
was a revolutionary new
radio valve of exceptionally high
performance. This valve was the
famous EF50, developed by Philips at
Eindhoven, later to be
manufactured by its subsidiary company,
Mullard, in the UK.
By chance, in
1939 the Radar development team at Bawdsey
were searching for a
suitable 45 MHz receiver to replace
their prototypes based on an
EMI design and were made aware of the
developments in Cambridge.
War II began on 3rd September 1939, UK TV
to an end, as did the production of the 45 MHz
Pye Model 915 TV
receiver, and Pye was switched over to the
design and production of
and later, wireless equipment, for the British