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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Getting Wired on Throwback Thursday David Whittle

It’s always interesting to take a look back in history to learn a little about the companies responsible for helping us get where we are today. Even better, it’s good to see products that changed our world when they were developed by companies we still do business with today. That said, a colleague directed me to a website filled with a lot of gems from radio broadcast/ audio history and as I was looking through the website I found a surprising advertisement from a Belden, a manufacturer that Mouser Electronics supplies today, once known as Belden Manufacturing.

At the bottom of the advertisement (see image) you can see it came from the February 1953 issue of Audio Engineering magazine. What caught my eye was that this was an ad celebrating their 50th anniversary! Maybe I had just never thought about it, but I had no idea they’ve been around that long. My personal history with Belden products goes back to the early 70s when I was developing an interest in music, about the time that I got my first job. This part time job at a local skating rink soon led to the purchase of my first guitar. By the 1980s I was working with bands as either a guitar player or running sound systems. We were young with limited funds so we didn’t buy cables; we made our own. I learned how to solder, developed a familiarity with Belden cable, and came to depend on their products for reliability. Everyone else that I knew in music was using Belden cable, too.

Belden’s history is certainly longer than I expected. The company was founded in Chicago, Illinois by Joseph Belden in 1902. To put this in perspective, my grandfather was born about the same time Belden was founded. For me, this means that the company was founded by someone 3 or 4 generations before I came along. These guys have been around a while and have certainly developed some expertise in their field, and it shows. Belden’s first major breakthrough came in 1905 when they developed a flexible, enamel insulation they dubbed “Beldenamel” This development provided a foundation for the company’s growth and continued to be a focus for their marketing efforts well into the late 1920s. You can see it in the advertisement below from that same era.

Early in my audio life, I learned that the quality of audio is dependent upon the weakest link in the chain, be it the source, the connecting links or even the ears. Apparently Belden was aware of this well before I was around and their marketing efforts drove that point. From the beginning, Belden specifically targeted audio applications. As an example, I found a magazine ad from 1928 promoting a full line of radio accessories designed to improve radio reception. This was a time when radio broadcasting was young. Their line of products included everything from aerial wire and lighting arrestors to pre-tinned hook-up wire and fused extension cords “insulated with Colorubber, which prevents loss of tone volume through leakage” and a “Bakelite Connecter (that) attaches to the loudspeaker terminal without tools.”

Their success during that time allowed them to expand their business and open a new plant in Richmond, Indiana. During WWII, like most industries, their efforts were focused on ways they could support the war effort. Belden continued their audio focus by making wire and cabling for communications technologies used in tanks, planes, ships, and portable radios.

After the war Belden found themselves in a leadership position in wire and cable, and continued to develop innovative products. In the early 80s Belden was acquired by Cooper Industries but the change wasn’t permanent. By the early 90s they again became a publicly held corporation with a growth strategy focused on a balance of acquisitions and organic growth.

Today, Belden continues to develop new products and now owns almost a dozen other brands that address the needs of diverse markets. They offer solutions in everything from broadcast to wastewater. With today’s changing landscape for wire and cable, more solutions are becoming attached to networks so it makes sense that Belden has a strong selection of products in networking. Now, with over 100 years of history, Belden continues to be an example of an American company that provides the right solutions for the markets they serve. True to their catch phrase, they are indeed sending all the right signals.

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David is the Technology Specialist for Mouser’s audio market segment and is responsible for identifying new technologies, products, applications and business opportunities in the automotive, consumer and pro audio markets. Prior to joining Mouser, David spent 20 years in the professional audio industry with International Music, Akai Professional and Rupert Neve Designs. Since coming to Mouser, David has driven growth strategies for some of the leading embedded processor and audio focused suppliers.

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