Bet You Didn't Know…. 10 Fun and Little-Known Facts About the History of Belden

By: CableOrganizer®

• 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). 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 with the resulting $25,000 in start-up funds. The Belden Manufacturing Company — known today as Belden — 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 the American millinery industry as well. Silk-wrapped wire was discovered to be more useful than telephone coil manufacture. It was also the chief material used in building lightweight frames for ladies' hats in the early 20th century.

• The company had some high-profile customers, even early in its existence. Within their first decade of being in business, Belden sourced wire and cabling to two of the most distinguished U.S. inventors of the day. The first was Thomas Edison, the innovator responsible for incandescent light bulbs and the phonograph. The second inventor was Lee De Forest, the physicist who created the Audion radio vacuum tube, which paved the way for radio broadcasting.

• By the outbreak of World War I, the Belden products had advanced so far, 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. It was integral to the development and installation of British and Russian wireless radio equipment.

• The Belden magnet wire, aerial wire, and low-tension cables became more in demand than ever during the upswing of commercial radio broadcasting in the 1920s. 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. The company also gained prominence in 1927 for its specially developed soft and unbreakable plug.

• As a manufacturer during the Second World War, the company’s wire mill in Richmond, Indiana was close to 700,000 square feet, with the facility remaining the most sprawling within the entire company for over seven decades. In 1942, Belden began producing items to assist in the war effort, making wiring for radios, vehicles, planes, ships, submarines, and other military equipment.

Belden became known for its innovation in wire production following the war, as a leader for creating plastic insulation for wires and cables, continuing through 1980.

• The company has continued to complete mergers and acquire companies since the 1980s, moving its corporate office to St. Louis, Missouri.

• Among its brands, Belden has continued increasing its product varieties to networking systems, security and compliance solutions, fiber optics, polycarbonate cabinets, and other industries.

Belden has since expanded its footprint internationally throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific regions of the world.

Shop at CableOrganizer® for Belden PPC® branded connectors and tools.

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