IET - Radio Man: the Remarkable Rise and Fall of C.O. Stanley

Organization: IET
Publication Date: 1 January 2002
Page Count: 376

The names of CO. Stanley and Pye were associated with some of the most dramatic applications of modern electronics in the post-war years. Pye pioneered radio telephones, equipping Britain's first fleet of radio cabs and bringing mobile phones to the police. Sir John Hunt took Pye radios with him to Mount Everest (though not quite to the summit). By the time of the crisis in 1966 Pye was the world's leading exporter of mobile radio phones. The company led the way in instrument landing systems for airports. It produced Britain's first transistor radio. In the 1950s it exported television cameras round the world, even selling them to the United States. A Pye camera was used to make the first picture guided deep-sea recovery when a Comet, the pride of Britain's civil aviation in the 1960s, crashed in the Mediterranean. Television made both boss and company rich. It provided Pye's greatest profits, above all in the ten years after the war when it manufactured the highest quality television sets on the market. And yet, if the company's new management were to be believed, television brought C.O. Stanley low. They published figures showing losses, chiefly on the television side, totalling millions of pounds. The bulk of this was the result of overproduction of television sets that cost too much and were of variable quality. A late attempt to break into the important TV rental market made a bad situation worse. The more one studied the reports of the events of 1966 the more obvious it seemed that the explanation was less likely to be found in the accountants' reports and balance sheets than in the years that went before. That was where the story had to be buried; the end already being written in the beginning, final failure the undeniable child of earlier success. C.O. Stanley was indeed a 'family man', and it was his family that held the first clues to his remarkable rise and fall.


M. Frankland