Bet You Didn’t Know… 5 Fun and Little-Known Facts About the History of Belden
26-year-old Joseph Belden, a purchasing agent at Chicago’s Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Company, was having a tough time finding silk-wrapped magnetic wire (the kind used in making telephone coils). So he decided to do away with the hassle of procurement, and started manufacturing it himself instead. Joseph sold shares of his fledgling company to 11 investors, and with the resulting $25,000 in start-up funds, the Belden Manufacturing Company was born in 1902.
Belden wire didn’t limit itself to the booming telephone industry; for a short time, the company offset fluctuations in business by gaining a foothold in American millinery as well! As it turns out, silk-wrapped wire was useful for more than telephone coil manufacture – it was also the chief material used in building lightweight frames for ladies’ hats in the early 20th century.
Not to drop names, but even early on, Belden had some pretty high-profile customers. Within their first decade of being in business, he company sourced wire and cabling to two the most distinguished US inventors of the day: Thomas Edison, the innovator responsible for incandescent light bulbs and the phonograph; and Lee De Forest, the physicist who invented the Audion radio vacuum tube, which paved the for radio broadcasting.
By the outbreak of World War 1, Belden’s products had advanced so far that they made an impact on the war effort. Beldenamel, the company’s patented enamel-coated copper wire, was used in the Allied forces’ motorized transport and field communications support units, and was integral to the development and installation of British and Russian wireless radio equipment.
Belden’s magnet wire, aerial wire, and low-tension cables became more in demand than ever during the upswing of commercial radio broadcasting in the 1920’s. As a matter of fact, the earliest Belden distributorships were sparked when the company began selling their components to jobbers, who then provided the parts to radio industry end users.
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