Pye was founded by W.G. Pye in 1896 in Cambridge as a manufacturer of scientific instruments. During World War One, Pye manufactured military equipment, including telescopes and surveying equipment. In 1925, the company branched out into radio; Charles Orr Stanley was hired to lead this branch of the company. Stanley bought the radio part of the company in 1928 from W.G. Pye, while W.G. Pye & Co continued as a separate company until it was bought out by Pye in 1946 (see separate W.G. Pye & Co entry). In 1929, Stanley registered the company as Pye Radio Ltd. Over the next three decades, he formed several subsidiary manufacturing companies, which together came to form the Pye Group. In 1937, the name was changed to Pye Ltd to reflect this widening of activity.
The Pye Group was an international company, which made and marketed scientific instruments, communications equipment, radio and television transmitters and receivers, medical equipment, electronic components, electrical equipment and domestic appliances. By 1960, there were 60 UK companies operating under Pye and 20 overseas companies including in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. It played a major role in the development of the electronic and communications industries in Britain, manufacturing and developing several important products.
Pye played a key role in the development of television from as early as the mid-1920s. In 1930 it began to manufacture television receivers, as well as CRTs and valves. It pioneered television receivers such as the 9-inch receiver in 1936. Once the television service was stopped during World War Two, Pye focused once again on military equipment. It developed Radar, a system for protecting against mine-laying equipment, the Proximity Fuse and differing forms of wireless communication. After the resumption of the service in 1946, Pye maintained its dedication to television, continuing to manufacture receivers and parts. This included demonstrating colour television in 1949, transformer-less television sets, Black Screen Television (sets that did not require darkness to view), Automatic Picture Control (to help prevent reception interference) and the first 27-inch screen, shown at the Radio Show in 1955. The Pye Printed Circuit was incorporated into television receivers in 1956. In 1960, Pye TVT was established as a separate company for the manufacture of television studio equipment including transmitters and cameras. Pye’s communications division, Pye Telecommunications Ltd, made large developments in radio and wireless technologies.
Following the merger of the Pye and EKCO groups in 1960 the combined company was known as British Electronics Industries Ltd. This was changed to Pye of Cambridge Ltd in 1963.Despite these successes, Pye was under increasing financial pressure in the 1960s and was eventually bought out by Philips in 1966. C.O. Stanley resigned as head of the company and went into retirement. In 1967 the Philips Group gained a majority shareholding in Pye and formed Pye Holdings Ltd to administer the Pye Group of companies.
Gradually, over the next 7 years, most of the Pye Group companies were absorbed into the operating companies of Philips Electronics UK. In 1996, when Philips Electronics UK sold the large radio communications division (formerly Pye Telecommunications) to form Simoco International Ltd, this became the parent company of all the ex-Pye and Philips radio communications companies worldwide. Philips continued to selectively use the Pye name as a secondary brand in various countries for many years and to this day Pye branded consumer products are sold by the Philips Group, particularly in Australia and South East Asia.