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Most Innovative Companies - Virgin

Innovative Companies – The Best Of

The most Innovative Companies of the last 100 years

Most Innovative Companies - Virgin
Sir Richard Branson – Photo by David Shankbone


Inspired by Elektor (who else of course) we decided to have a look at some of the most innovative companies in the world over the last 100 years – Dutch super-company Philips is definitely amongst them so this is where we start. Bernard Tellegen, the inventor of the pentode tube worked at Philips and was one of their outstanding engineers in the early 1920s. Then the audio cassette, in conjunction with Sony the CD and the rotary head shaver. Looking to mass production Philips were definitely the prime movers of the light bulb and top quality shavers – they were after all the inventor of the rotary head shaver.  Radio valves, transistors and integrated circuits. They have also excelled in the field of medicine. When one looks at their field of experience and head count of highly qualified engineers and skilled workers one may find it surprising that they have not expanded their operation over the years instead of selling off their semiconductor manufacturing business (trading as NXP)? In fact, I think Philips still do the right things at the right time – more so, they have also always maintained their image: Trustworthy, Innovative and World Leaders.  The Cyclotron, X-Rays, Coffee makers, shavers, audio, radio and components. And do not forget lighting! Definitely in the top tweny list of the most innovative companies over the last 100 years. Think Signetics, think 555 IC.


There are at least one hundred companies I could list here but Bosch would always find it’s way into the top twenty. In fact Germany possibly control the highest percentage of the most innovative people in the world. We could bounce figures around the whole day but credit goes to Robert Bosch – whom does not own at least one appliance, tool or car part which is not Bosch. Bosch is heavy on patents, in fact one of the world leaders – testament to the power of innovation and having control. Talking about having control – brakes, steering, traction control and diesel fuel injectors. Blaupunkt car audio and the takeover of Junkers. In almost every field Bosch has made it’s mark.


I am not a big advocate of Asian innovation but they certainly know how to make ‘things’ better. With the exception of Sony – they are innovators without being cheesy. Transistorised TV, the Trinitron, the Walkman, Diskman, OLED TV, the Betamax and consumer to professional level video cameras. The Betamax was just simply better but could not compete with VHS. Playstations and Cell Phones. In collaboration with Philips they brought out the compact disk. Sony is losing business and the only way they can restore this is by doing what Philips did – stop competing for mass appeal and stick to their core: innovation. Sony is good with home theater (Sonus) and better than most when it comes to video reproduction. They messed up with Aiwa in my opinion but I don’t know what their strategy was. An innovative company – right!

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