Bell & Howell Co.

Bell and Howell is a U.S.-based former manufacturer of motion picture machinery, founded in 1907 by two projectionists, and was originally headquartered in Wheeling, Illinois. The company is now headquartered in Durham, NC and currently provides inserting and finishing solutions for production mail.

According to its charter, the Bell & Howell Company was incorporated on February 17, 1907. The first meeting of stockholders took place in the office of Attorney W. G. Strong on February 19 at 10 a.m. The first board of directors was chosen for a term of one year: Donald Joseph Bell (1869–1934), chairman; Albert Summers Howell (1879–1951), secretary; and Marguerite V. Bell (wife of Donald Bell), vice chairman.

Historically, Bell & Howell Co. was an important supplier of many different media technologies. The firm built its name making products such as rotary framers, 35mm film perforators, motion-picture film cameras, printing equipment, military film cameras, newsreel and amateur film cameras, sound projectors, slide projectors and presentation projectors.

In 1954, Bell & Howell purchased DeVry Industries' 16mm division.

Although Bell & Howell Co. were mainly known for manufacturing their film projectors, a partnership with Canon between 1961 and 1976 offered still cameras. Many of their 35mm SLR cameras were manufactured by Canon with the Bell & Howell logo or Bell & Howell/Canon in place of the Canon branding. The firm dropped the production of movie cameras by the end of the 1970s.

Bell & Howell was a supplier of media equipment for schools and offices. The film laboratory line is now a separate company, BHP Inc, which is a division of Research Technology International.

The firm added microfilm products in 1946. It purchased University Microfilms International in the 1980s. UMI produced a product called ProQuest. In the 2000s, Bell & Howell decided to focus on their information technology businesses. The imaging business was sold to Eastman Kodak and the international mail business was sold to Pitney Bowes. On June 6, 2001 Bell & Howell became a ProQuest Company, which was then a publicly traded company, but is now a subsidiary of the private Cambridge Information Group. In September 2001, the remaining industrial businesses, along with the Bell & Howell name were sold to private equity firm Glencoe Capital.

The company merged with the North American arm of Böwe Systec Inc. In 2003; Böwe Systec later acquired the entire company. It was known as Böwe Bell & Howell until 2011, when Versa Capital Management bought the company out of bankruptcy and renamed the company "Bell and Howell, LLC".

They also had an Electronics and Instrumentation Division on Lennox Road, Basingstoke, UK. This facility produced several different types of transducers for applications such as North Sea oil platforms and the Ariane Space vehicles.[