Bang & Olufsen: A trip down memory lane

It all began in 1925, when Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen started the company that was to bear their name on a farm in Struer, north west Denmark. The two young engineers began by making radios, and developing the first Bang & Olufsen Eliminator, essentially a mains power pack for radios that previously were powered by batteries.

The problem was that the batteries would often go flat at just the wrong moment, right in the middle of a programme, so a more reliable power source was needed. One of the big battery companies at the time was Hellesens, who didn't take kindly to the young upstarts from B&O pinching their market.

In fact, as you can see from the early advertising posters below, a war of words broke out between the two companies. Hellesens adopted a scaremongering technique of suggesting that connecting your radio to the mains was highly dangerous, akin to putting yourself in an electric chair!

Bang & Olufsen hit back with an ad campaign (below right) based on the disappointment your guests would feel if you invited them over for an evening's entertainment listening to a concert on the radio, and the batteries died half way through. Ah, they sure don't make ad campaigns like that any more.

From there Bang & Olufsen moved on to develop early reel-to-reel recorders, radiograms and eventually TVs. On a trip to B&O's HQ this week I was able to sneak inside the company's miniature museum, which is housed in the basement behind a door that wouldn't look out of place in a bank vault.

Here you'll find an amazing assortment of products from 1925 up until the 1980s, including some of the iconic models from the 1950s and 1960s. Here's a selection of pictures I took, can you identify them?

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By Andy Clough

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.