Kentucky Electrical Lamp Company

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Ken-Rad branded vacuum tube carton

Founded in 1899, the Kentucky Electrical Lamp Company began operations at 817 Lewis Street (later renamed J. R. Miller Blvd., in the 1980s) in Owensboro, Kentucky.[1] The company was a pioneer in the development and manufacturing of incandescent light bulbs.

The company was sold to Roy Burlew in 1918 who used it to create the Kentucky Radio Corporation, later known as Ken-Rad, which operated out of the same building. Burlew grew the company significantly as the lamp plant continued to grow, Burlew expanded into the manufacturing of vacuum tubes for radios in 1922. Within seven years of purchasing the company it had expanded with plants in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Tell City and Huntingburg, Indiana.[2] The manufacturing company supplied the light bulbs for the first Major League Baseball game played at night. The game was played on May 24, 1935, between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati's Crosley Field.[3] In 1943, Burlew sold the lamp division which he acquired in 1918 for $55,000 to the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in exchange of 35,000 shares of that company's stock valued at $1,600,000.

Ken-Rad was secured several government and defense contracts during World War II. The company grew to be very important to the war effort, and when it was threatened by a strike in 1944 it was seized by the Department of War under order of President Roosevelt.[2] In 1945 Burlew sold the remainder of the company, the tube division, to General Electric and became GE's primary tube making facility.[4] In 1987, GE sold the company to a group of investors who formed a company called MPD, Inc.[5]

From 1921 to 2006 the building served as home to Smith Machine and Supply, Inc. The building was torn down in 2007 and the property was reclaimed as an Owensboro city park.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hugh O. Potter's History of Owensboro and Daviess County, Kentucky, p. 125, published 1974, Herff Jones-Paragon Publishing, Montgomery, Alabama and Louisville, Kentucky,
  2. ^ a b Kleber, John, ed. (1992). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 487. ISBN 9780813117720. 
  3. ^ Thackers mark anniversary of landmark baseball game, By Suzi Bartholomy, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky. Wednesday, May 26, 2010
  4. ^ Hugh O. Potter's History of Owensboro and Daviess County, Kentucky, p. 126, published 1974, Herff Jones-Paragon Publishing, Montgomery, Alabama and Louisville, Kentucky,
  5. ^ "MPD Components, Inc. Manufacturer of Ceramics, Ceramic Seals, Vacuum Electron Devices (VEDs) like Planars, Magnetrons and Spark Gaps, and RF Microwave Circuit Modules (MCMs)". www.mpdcomponents.com. Retrieved 2016-02-21.