History of Narragansett Imaging

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Although Narragansett Imaging is a relatively new face in the digital imaging industry our background is rich in history and the company is able to draw upon participation in the imaging industry for the last 40 years.

Components Manufacture and Establishing the Slatersville Site
The story begins in 1959 when North American Philips Corporation built a 40,000-square-feet plant in Slatersville, RI on a 15-acre plot. The plant was operated by one of Philips' fully owned subsidiaries, Amperex Electronics, to supply one of Philips' largest customers, IBM with high speed, gold-doped Germanium logic diodes. Millions of these diodes were manufactured at the Slatersville plant every year. With the advent of silicon diodes in 1962 there was a decreasing demand for these Germanium diodes, so Philips transferred their Germanium Post Alloy Diffused Transistor (PADT) manufacturing to Slatersville to take advantage of the site's capacity.

In 1973, several years after its acquisition by Amperex, the manufacturing operations of Advanced Micro Electronics were transferred to Slatersville. The products transferred from Advanced Micro Electronics included small signal silicon planar transistors, for military and industrial applications, and LID's (Leadless Inverted Devices) and Hybrid Circuits using both thin and thick film technology. Manufacturing of these three products and the sales office for Philips Semiconductors were housed in Slatersville until 1992 when this business unit was sold.

Plumbicon Tubes and the Expansion of Slatersville
In 1960 Philips invented an imaging tube called the Plumbicon to replace the vidicon and orthicon tubes used in studio TV cameras. The technical advantages of this new tube allowed true color fidelity to be seen in TV broadcasts for the first time. In 1967 the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Philips an Emmy award for "Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development" for the invention of the Plumbicon tube.

The popularity of the Plumbicon tubes was so great that Amperex, built a second plant (adjacent to the 1959 building) on the Slatersville site to meet the demand. The new plant was 85,000-square-feet and at the time of construction employed the largest and cleanest clean room facilities in the world. The plant was officially opened in 1967 and is still making Plumbicon Camera Tubes today. Although the original use of Plumbicon camera tubes was in broadcast television, current demand is primarily in for use in medical imaging equipment.

In 1998 Philips Components purchased, from EEV, the only other lead oxide camera tube business still in existence and so became the World's sole lead oxide camera tube manufacturer.

The Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development


Digital Imaging and the Creation of Narragansett Imaging
In 1989, Amperex was renamed Philips Components and at the same time the sales office for Philips North America CCD Sensors was moved to the Slatersville site. This was followed, in 1998, by the transfer of Philips' industrial CCD camera manufacturing activity to Slatersville and the creation of a center of excellence for CCD camera design.

At the turn of the century Philips began to consolidate its businesses and concentrate on its core markets. This meant that the Plumbicon tube and industrial CCD camera operations at Slatersville needed to find a new owner. In late 2000 Narragansett Imaging was formed as a business jointly owned by Business Creation of the Netherlands and Philips. The new company purchased both businesses: Plumbicon tubes and digital camera modules. This joint ownership continued until March 2004 when Narragansett Imaging's executive management teamed with Sebago Equity Partners and acquired the company.

Philips' CCD camera module group was originally created to work with Philips' in-house supply of CCD chips: however, the independence of Narragansett Imaging allows us to work with a range of image-sensor vendors to achieve best performance in any application. Narragansett Imaging currently designs and manufactures CCD and CMOS based digital camera modules for use in traffic control, biometrics, defense, medical imaging, professional imaging and machine vision.

Experience and Vision
Today's Narragansett Imaging is able to draw from great facilities and a rich vein of experience drawn from Philips' history in Slatersville. Not only do we boast its high tech clean room capabilities but many of our employees began working for Amperex and Philips Components 20, 30 and even 40 years ago.

Narragansett Imaging's camera and tube activity proudly carries on the long history, expertise and technology leadership into the 21st century where we continue to innovate in imaging technologies - addressing new applications, markets and challenges.

If you want to know more about the History of Narragansett Imaging or the Slatersville facility, please get in touch with us: info@nimaging.com.