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A Brief History of Philips Cinema

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Written by: C. G. Nijsen, writer and historian Issue 62 - September 2000

Mr Anton Kotte (left)and Mr. Nijsen photographed in May 1998 in Eindhoven, Holland by Thomas Hauerslev

The Philips Light bulb factory was founded in 1891 by the two Philips brothers (Ing. Gerard Philips and Dr. Anton Philips. Gerard was the technician and Anton the salesman). When the "Philips" brand became so successful, they decided during the 1920s, to enlarge their scope from lamps only to everything electrical or electronic. Laboratory research was largely concentrated on radio reception and transmitting. Around 1927 Philips introduced a number of modern radio receivers on to the market that triggered a whole range of other industrial activities.

Radio meant Sound and Music. The existence of sound amplification  (a radio consists mainly of a receiver and an amplifier part, plus a loudspeaker) logically led to further research into sound-on-film for talking pictures. The Philips-Miller sound recording system was the beginning of the Philips Electro-Acoustics Division (The division was known under other names during the early days).

Jan Jacob Kotte joined Philips as a young man and soon got involved in machine design for these type of activities. The first "Loeftaffon" record turntables to be synchronised with non-Philips film projectors were produced in small numbers in a laboratory workshop (Called Proeffabriek). In the early 1930s the first models of Philips projection machines and Philips-Miller sound recording units were designed and constructed. Kotte was the ace designer right from the start, guided by capable senior engineers like Hardenberg, Nillesen and others. The famous, very modern engineered Film Projectors FP5, 6 and 7 were introduced around 1937, and still produced basically unaltered thirty years later!

Further in 70mm reading:

Jan Jacob Kotte

Gallery: May 1998: Visiting Anton Philip Kotte in Eindhoven, Holland

Personnel at ELA

DP70 / Universal 70-35 / Norelco AAII - The Todd-AO Projector

Internet link:


On top of this Philips building in Eindhoven, Holland, all Philips´ cinema projectors were enginered. The location was called "ELA" which is short for Electro Acoustive Division. There was a cinema in which the cinema equipment was installed, including a DP70. Picture by Editor.

Another constructional master piece connected with Kotte´s name was the portable 35mm projector, designed secretly during the war in a small village hide-out (Acht) and tested and launched in the year 1945. I was involved in both projects and remember the surprise of all people in the movie business. The name and logo "Philips Cinema" and my slogan "Philips for Perfection in Sound and Projection" were coined during that period, because our exporting activities had re-begun and we wanted to create an international flavour for our activities in English-speaking territories. It was soon followed by German, French and Spanish ("Siempre preferido por Imagen y Sonido"), since new orders came in very quickly.

Germany became a big market, since many cinemas had been destroyed during the war. Strong competitors like Bauer, Ernemann, Siemens and Frieske & Höpfner were gradually pushed out of the market by Philips´ quality and modern design. Kalee, in spite of their old-fashioned type of engineering, was a strong brand in England. Much later Cinemeccanica in Italy offered low-price competition. Export to the USA, competing with Simplex and Century, on a well-protected home market, was considered too difficult for the time being.

Philips ELA (Electro Acoustics)


The Philips "ELA" name was coined in 1946 when the manufacturing and selling activities of microphones, amplifiers, PA loudspeakers (Public Address), recording and cinema equipment were concentrated into one division.

There was a split-up of responsibilities: The "Factory" taking care of development, construction and manufacturing, and the "Commercial Department" being in charge of marketing, planning and sales, plus keeping in touch with international markets and sales representatives (Philips and non-Philips products) abroad.

Commercially responsible for cinema activities were:

* H. Opdenberg, Commercial Director
* H. A. H. M. Nillesen, Commercial Director Cinema Department (later succeeded by H. L. A. Gimberg.)
* W. Jansen, Technical-Commercial liason officer
* C.G.Nijsen, Sales Promotion & Advertising Manager
* G. Hooghiemstra, Sales Representative USA area

Technically responsible for cinema activities were:

* Dr. J. de Boer, Technical Director (successor to H. Wildeboer)
* P. Hinse, Manager Cinema Design Department
* Jan J. Kotte, Chief Designer
* P. Hoekstra, Designer Special Projects
* A.A. Overmars, Manager Projector Assembly Department

The latter people also communicated with parts manufacture such as Philips Machine and Metalware factories.

Personnel beyond the above mentioned organisations and engaged in DP70 activities were J. Sliepenbeek, F. Rijke, H. de Laart, and others involved in the rushed DP70 planning.

Later, C. Cessler was employed as a sales representative for the Holland area, as well as in other nearby countries.

After 1973, international sales of Philips Cinema equipment were handled on an exclusive basis by the firm of Kinoton GmbH in Munich, Germany. Since 1973 Kinoton GmbH have continued to order Philips  Cinema projectors from the Eindhoven Machine factory (Machinenfabriek 8). After Jan Kotte's retirement he continued working for Mr. Zoller, chief of Kinoton, making projector design for them.

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Updated 07-01-23