The SYLVANIA Brand Story

The History of SYLVANIA. The Birth of LEDVANCE.

A Century of Illumination

The SYLVANIA brand leadership results from our proud legacy, which extends back to the dawn of the twentieth century, and points the way for continued success in years to come. In fact, the history of our company parallels the evolution of electric and its technological advances over the course of the twentieth century. It's a story rich in scientific discovery and successful entrepreneurship, which spans both sides of the Atlantic. Join us on a brief journey into the SYLVANIA brand history.


Roots Back to 1901

Thomas A. Edison invented the modern incandescent light bulb in 1879, though inventors on both sides of the Atlantic had worked on artificial light sources for many years. Use of the light bulb spread, spurred on by achievements in electrical engineering led by Germany's Werner von Siemens, whose company perfected a light bulb in 1880.

Our company traces its roots back to 1901, when young entrepreneur Frank Poor became a partner in a small company in Middleton, MA, that renewed burned-out light bulbs. The company would buy an old bulb for a few cents, cut off the glass tip, replace the filament, and reseal the bulb.

Poor soon moved the business to Danvers, bought out his partner, and called his new company Bay State Light Bulb Company. His brothers soon joined him in the enterprise. The Poor brothers started the Hygrade Incandescent Light Bulb Company in 1909 to sell new carbon-filament light bulbs and, by 1911, tungsten filament light bulbs. The Bay State refilling operation was soon discontinued. In 1916, Hygrade opened a new plant and headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts, which could turn out 16,000 light bulbs a day.

In Pennsylvania, the Novelty Incandescent Light Bulb Company had been formed in 1906 to make novelty lights and refill old light bulbs. After several transitions, the company was finally purchased in 1922 by entrepreneur Bernard Erskine and two associates, who founded the Nilco Light Bulb Works. In 1924, Nilco formed the SYLVANIA Products Company to make receiving tubes for another new invention that would change the world: the radio.

In 1931, Hygrade, Nilco and SYLVANIA representing the company's roots in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania merged to form the Hygrade SYLVANIA Corporation. The company sold light bulbs under the Hygrade name, and radio tubes under the SYLVANIA name. Hygrade SYLVANIA marketed its first fluorescent light bulb in 1938, developing a complete line of fixtures called "Miralume." The Sylvan Street plant was opened in Danvers in 1941 to manufacture fluorescent light bulbs.

In 1942, the company changed its name to SYLVANIA Electric Products, Inc., and debuted the "flashing S" logo. The 1940s and 1950s witnessed enormous growth, as new plants were opened. The company increased its production of materials and components, phosphors and metals, for example, used in and other products. SYLVANIA also expanded into consumer electronics, television tubes and radios.

In 1959, SYLVANIA merged with General Telephone. The new company became known as General Telephone & Electronics and later, GTE. In 1965, the company's division opened its Danvers headquarters. In the 1970s and 1980s, the division gradually moved out of consumer electronics to focus on precision materials.

In recent decades, the company developed products with longer life, better light and greater energy efficiency. Important advances were made in the development of discharge light bulb technology. In the 1980s, the SYLVANIA OCTRON® fluorescent light bulb and the DULUX® compact fluorescent light bulb represented major innovations.

OSRAM SYLVANIA was created in January 1993, when OSRAM GmbH acquired the SYLVANIA and precision materials businesses in North America from GTE.

LEDVANCE was launched as an independent company during the summer of 2016 when it separated from OSRAM.

In 2017, LEDVANCE was sold to a Chinese consortium consisting of the investor IDG Capital, the Chinese lighting company MLS Co., Ltd. (MLS) and the financial investor Yiwu State-Owned Assets Operation Center (Yiwu). Together the involved companies intend to expand their position as global leaders in the lighting industry. LEDVANCE and MLS – one of the world’s largest producers of LED packages - complement each other very well, both geographically and in terms of product portfolio. Through the transaction, both will benefit from a significantly larger sales and distribution network, as well as sourcing synergies, laying the foundation for co-operative future growth.