Plessey
Overview
 
The Plessey Company plc was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

-based international electronics, defence and telecommunications company. It originated in 1917, growing and diversifying into electronics. It expanded after the second world war by acquisition of companies and formed overseas companies. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

 and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index
FTSE 100 Index
The FTSE 100 Index, also called FTSE 100, FTSE, or, informally, the footsie , is a share index of the 100 most highly capitalised UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange....

 but in 1989 it was taken over by a consortium formed by GEC and Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

 which broke up the Plessey group.
The Plessey company was founded in 1917 in Marylebone
Marylebone
Marylebone is an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St. Marylebone or Mary-le-bone....

, central London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.
Encyclopedia
The Plessey Company plc was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

-based international electronics, defence and telecommunications company. It originated in 1917, growing and diversifying into electronics. It expanded after the second world war by acquisition of companies and formed overseas companies. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London within the United Kingdom. , the Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$3.7495 trillion, making it the fourth-largest stock exchange in the world by this measurement...

 and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index
FTSE 100 Index
The FTSE 100 Index, also called FTSE 100, FTSE, or, informally, the footsie , is a share index of the 100 most highly capitalised UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange....

 but in 1989 it was taken over by a consortium formed by GEC and Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

 which broke up the Plessey group.

Early history

The Plessey company was founded in 1917 in Marylebone
Marylebone
Marylebone is an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St. Marylebone or Mary-le-bone....

, central London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. The original shareholders were Thomas Hurst Hodgson, C.H. Whitaker, Raymond Parker and his brother Plessey Parker. A talented German engineer, William Oscar Heyne was employed by the company. Heyne later became the Managing Director and Chairman of Plessey and was one of the key figures in the development of Plessey during the 1920s and 30s.
The company moved to Cottenham Road in Ilford
Ilford
Ilford is a large cosmopolitan town in East London, England and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Redbridge. It is located northeast of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. It forms a significant commercial and retail...

 early in 1919 (and then to Vicarage Lane where it remained). In 1925 the original company was wound up and a new one formed with a greater share capital. Most of the early work carried out by the company was mechanical engineering rather than electronics.

The Clark connection

An early customer of Plessey was a galvanising company called British Electro Chemists. One of that company's shareholders was Byron G. Clark, an American, who was also a business associate of T.H. Hodgson, one of the founders of Plessey. The Clark family would eventually dominate the management of Plessey for most of its history. Byron's son Allen George Clark
Allen George Clark
Sir Allen George Clark was an American born, British industrialist who helped to build the former Plessey company into one of Europe's largest manufacturers of telecommunications equipment, military electronics and aircraft components.-Early life:Allen George Clark was born in Brookline,...

 joined the company in 1921, and went on to become a major driving force behind the development of Plessey, followed later by his sons John Allen Clark, and Michael William Clark, both of whom rose to prominent positions in the company.

Electrical manufacturing

During the 1920s Plessey began to diversify into electrical manufacturing. Important contracts included the manufacture of early radios for Marconi
Marconi Company
The Marconi Company Ltd. was founded by Guglielmo Marconi in 1897 as The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company...

 and the production of telephones for the GPO. Because of the increased production, Plessey moved to Vicarage Lane Ilford in 1923. In 1929 the television pioneer John Logie Baird
John Logie Baird
John Logie Baird FRSE was a Scottish engineer and inventor of the world's first practical, publicly demonstrated television system, and also the world's first fully electronic colour television tube...

 had his first production televisions produced by Plessey. The company also produced the first British made portable battery radio in the same year.

The manufacture of electrical components also became a key area of growth for Plessey. A vast array of different components was manufactured by the company, many under licence from overseas companies. Plessey became one of the largest manufacturers in this field as the radio and television industries grew. In 1936/7 turnover was more than £1 million and Plessey became a public company on 17 March 1937.

Aircraft components

Aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 components was another market into which Plessey diversified. In 1936 Plessey obtained a number of important manufacturing licences from American companies such as, Breeze Corporation for aircraft multi-pin electrical connectors, Federal Laboratories for Coffman starters (an explosive cartridge device used to start aircraft engines), and Pump Engineering Services Corporation for the manufacture of Pesco fuel pumps. Plessey went on to produce large numbers of Pesco fuel pumps for Rolls Royce Merlin engines, and in 1940 the fuel pump for Britain's first jet engine was also supplied by Plessey.

WW II

During the war, Plessey produced a vast array of components and equipment for the war effort, including shell cases, aircraft parts, and radio equipment such as the R1155
R1155
The R1155 was a ubiquitous radio communications receiver used by the Royal Air Force in World War II. The R1155/T1154 combination was used in larger aircraft, particularly the Avro Lancaster and Short Sunderland, and also in some vehicles and air-sea rescue launches...

 (receiver), and T1154 (transmitter). In all 161,500 electronic equipments were produced.

To allow greater production, Plessey converted 5 miles of twin tunnel, built for a new extension
Fairlop Loop
The Fairlop Loop was a 6.5-mile branch line of the Great Eastern Railway . It opened to freight on 20 April 1903 and to passengers on 1 May 1903. It connected Woodford on the Ongar branch to Ilford on the Main Line, along with an eastward freight connection for freight, excursions and stock...

 to the London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

 Central Line
Central Line
The Central line is a London Underground line, coloured red on the tube map. It is a deep-level "tube" line, running east-west across London, and, at , has the greatest total length of track of any line on the Underground. Of the 49 stations served, 20 are below ground...

 from Leytonstone
Leytonstone
Leytonstone is an area of east London and part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. It is a high density suburban area, located seven miles north east of Charing Cross in the ceremonial county of Greater London and the historic county of Essex...

 to Newbury Park
Newbury Park, London
Newbury Park is a district of Ilford in North-East Greater London, situated in the London Borough of Redbridge east of Gants Hill. The main road is the Eastern Avenue , which until the 1920s was a country lane called Hatch Lane. The main landmark in this town is the Tube station whose post-war bus...

, into a factory. The company also built a new factory at Swindon
Swindon
Swindon is a large town within the borough of Swindon and ceremonial county of Wiltshire, in South West England. It is midway between Bristol, west and Reading, east. London is east...

, and opened several other shadow factories around the country producing munitions. Caswell became the first dedicated research centre in 1940. The wartime workforce of Plessey grew to over 10,000 people.

Post World War II

At the end of the war the company's orders dropped from £5 million in 1944/5 to only £263,000 in 1946. The workforce fell to less than 6000. Radio and television sales were the main area of activity until the renewed demand for defence products with the Korean War. From a turnover of £5 million in 1949/50 there was an increase to £32 million in 1959/60.

In 1951 the Electronics Division was started by Michael Clark. By 1955 this had expanded to become the Electronics and Equipment Group with 5000 staff. The following year the Roke Manor Research Limited
Roke Manor Research Limited
Founded in 1956, Roke Manor Research Limited is a UK company based at Roke Manor in Romsey, Hampshire. It is a contract research and development business for communications, networks, and electronic sensors. In addition to supporting Chemring, work is also conducted in both the public and private...

 facility was set up under the direction of H.J. Finden. Plessey produced an early Integrated Circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

 model in 1957, before the patents of Jack St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Inc. , widely known as TI, is an American company based in Dallas, Texas, United States, which develops and commercializes semiconductor and computer technology...

 and Robert Noyce
Robert Noyce
Robert Norton Noyce , nicknamed "the Mayor of Silicon Valley", co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and Intel in 1968...

 of Fairchild. In the 1960s the Group continued to expand, setting up facilities at places such as West Leigh and Templecombe.
In 1961 Plessey merged with the British Ericsson Telephone Company, and the Automatic Telephone & Electric (AT&E), to become Britain's largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment including the majority of the country's crossbar switch
Crossbar switch
In electronics, a crossbar switch is a switch connecting multiple inputs to multiple outputs in a matrix manner....

es. Alongside the Telecommunications Division, three other businesses were set up: Plessey Avionics and Communications, Plessey Radar and Plessey Marine. In 1970 the Command and Control unit was set up at Christchurch
Christchurch, Dorset
Christchurch is a borough and town in the county of Dorset on the south coast of England. The town adjoins Bournemouth in the west and the New Forest lies to the east. Historically in Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974 and is the most easterly borough in...

, which became the centre of the Plessey Defence Systems business. In 1979 a major subsidiary was set up, Plessey Electronic Systems Ltd, which incorporated the three businesses and achieved sales of over £500 million and employed 15000 people by 1986.

Plessey were partners in the development of the Atlas Computer in 1962 and in the development of Digital telephone systems—System X
System X (telephony)
System X was the name of the UK's first national digital telephone exchange system.-Development:System X was developed by the UK Post Office , GEC, Plessey, and Standard Telephones and Cables and first shown in public in 1979 at the Telecom 79 exhibition in Geneva Switzerland...

—during the late 1970s. The Plessey Telecommunications Division merged with that of GEC to become GEC-Plessey Telecommunications. Plessey Naval Systems was formed in 1986 by the merger of Plessey Marine with Plessey Displays, which had been part of Plessey Radar.

In 1967 or 1968 English Electric
English Electric
English Electric was a British industrial manufacturer. Founded in 1918, it initially specialised in industrial electric motors and transformers...

 was subject to a takeover bid by Plessey, but chose instead to accept an offer from GEC.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Plessey manufactured a series of computer systems and peripherals compatible with Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation
Digital Equipment Corporation was a major American company in the computer industry and a leading vendor of computer systems, software and peripherals from the 1960s to the 1990s...

's PDP-11
PDP-11
The PDP-11 was a series of 16-bit minicomputers sold by Digital Equipment Corporation from 1970 into the 1990s, one of a succession of products in the PDP series. The PDP-11 replaced the PDP-8 in many real-time applications, although both product lines lived in parallel for more than 10 years...

. By 1972 Plessey designed the first industrial Capability-based security
Capability-based security
Capability-based security is a concept in the design of secure computing systems, one of the existing security models. A capability is a communicable, unforgeable token of authority. It refers to a value that references an object along with an associated set of access rights...

 computer, a fault-tolerant multiprocessor system called Plessey System 250
Plessey System 250
-History:Manufactured by Plessey company plc in the United Kingdom in 1970, it was successfully deployed by the Ministry of Defence for the British Army Ptarmigan project and served in the first Gulf War as a tactical mobile communication network switch....

. Plessey was also the lead contractor for the Ptarmigan communications system supplied to the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 that adopted the Plessey System 250
Plessey System 250
-History:Manufactured by Plessey company plc in the United Kingdom in 1970, it was successfully deployed by the Ministry of Defence for the British Army Ptarmigan project and served in the first Gulf War as a tactical mobile communication network switch....

 architecture.

UK Air Defence

In 1959 AT&E, later Plessey, became the Prime Contractor for a new UK Air Defence System, known by the Company under the name Plan Ahead and, from 1961, as Project Linesman
Linesman/Mediator
Linesman/Mediator was the dual-purpose civil and military radar network in the United Kingdom. Against a background of the Russian H-bomb and supersonic bombers Linesman was the answer to the Cold War defence policies, replacing the earlier ROTOR and Type 80 Master Radar Stations that were the...

. To enable the system to be designed and built without too much information becoming public knowledge, a new factory called "Exchange Works" was built in Cheapside in Liverpool city centre, where young employees were granted exemption from conscription.

Heart of the system, installed in a huge building in the middle of a council housing estate in West Drayton
West Drayton
West Drayton is a suburban area in the London Borough of Hillingdon in the far west of London, England. Formerly part of the Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District of Middlesex, the district became part of Greater London in 1965....

, was the computer room, occupying an area of around 300 by 150 ft (91.4 by 45.7 ) and filled with around 1,000 7 feet (2.1 m) racks of electronics, including mainly the XL4 computer, based entirely on germanium transistors and using a computer language developed at Exchange Works in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period the company effectively became the world leader in computer design... unfortunately, this fact remained a close secret.

The secure status of the factory attracted many other secret contracts and led to it becoming one of the major designers and manufacturers of cryptographic equipment.
Exchange Works is now luxury flats.

Plessey in South Africa

The South African roots of Plessey can be traced to the acquisition of AT&E and Ericsson in 1963 and a Cape Town based company, the Instrument Manufacturing Company (IMC), acquired in 1964.

At the time, IMC was in the process of industrialising a unique South African invention, the Tellurometer
Tellurometer
The Tellurometer was the first successful microwave electronic distance measurement equipment.-History:The original Tellurometer, known as the Micro-Distancer M/RA 1, was introduced in 1959. It was invented by Dr...

, the first successful microwave electronic distance measurement equipment (EDM). The Tellurometer was invented by Dr. Trevor Lloyd Wadley
Trevor Wadley
Trevor Lloyd Wadley, was a South African electrical engineer, best known for his development of the Wadley Loop circuit for greater stability in communications receivers....

 of the Telecommunications Research Laboratory of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), also responsible for the Wadley Loop
Wadley Loop
The Wadley Loop circuit was designed by Dr. Trevor Wadley in the 1940s and was first used for a stable Wavemeter.- Overview :In a traditional superheterodyne radio receiver, most oscillator drift and instability occurs in the first frequency converter stage, because it is tunable and operating at a...

 receiver, which allowed precision tuning over wide bands, a task that had previously required switching out multiple crystals.

South African insurance and investment company Sanlam bought 26% of Plessey South Africa in 1974 with first right of refusal to purchase more of the company. These shares were later transferred to Sankorp, Sanlam’s industrial holdings company. Fifteen years later, in 1989, GEC-Siemens took control of the Plessey Company plc and Sankorp indicated its intention to purchase the remaining 74% of shares in the South African subsidiary.

GEC takeover bid

In December 1985 GEC launched a takeover bid for the Plessey Company, valuing the group at £1.2 billion. Both Plessey and the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 were against the merger, GEC and Plessey were the two largest suppliers to the MoD and in many tenders the only competitors. In January 1986 the bid was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), whose report published in August advised against the merger. The government concurred and blocked GEC's bid.

In 1988 Plessey and The General Electric Company (GEC) merged their telecom units to form GEC-Plessey Telecommunications (GPT), the UK's leading telecommunications manufacturer.

GEC Siemens takeover

In 1988 GEC and Siemens AG
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

 set up a jointly held company, GEC Siemens plc, to launch a hostile takeover of Plessey. GEC Siemens' initial offer was made on 23 December 1988 valuing Plessey at £1.7 billion. Again Plessey rejected the offer and again it was referred to the MMC. The original proposal envisaged joint ownership of all of Plessey's defence businesses, with GPT and Plessey's North American businesses split in the ratios 60:40 and 51:49 respectively. The level of GEC's involvement in the Plessey defence businesses was not likely to meet with regulatory approval and in February GEC Siemens announced a new organisation. The takeover was completed in September 1989.

Break-up of the business

In April 1990 GEC and Siemens agreed a new structure of ownership of the Plessey businesses:

GEC acquisitions

  • UK
    • Plessey Aerospace
    • Plessey Avionics
    • Plessey Crypto
    • Plessey Materials
    • Plessey Naval Systems
    • Plessey Semiconductors
    • Plessey Research Caswell
      Caswell, Northamptonshire
      Caswell is a lost settlement in Northamptonshire appx from Towcester, from Northampton and from Milton Keynes. It is close to Greens Norton village and now consists almost entirely of Caswell House, a former family farmhouse built for the 4th Duke of Grafton in 1839. Another similar house is...

  • North America
    • Plessey Aero Precision Corp
    • Plessey Dynamics Corp
    • Plessey Electronic Systems Corp (including ES Marine Systems)
    • Sippican Inc
    • Plessey Materials Inc
    • Leigh Instruments

Siemens acquisitions

  • Siemens Plessey Radar
  • Siemens Plessey Defence Systems
  • Siemens Plessey Controls
  • Siemens Plessey Australia
  • Siemens Plessey Assessment Services
  • Roke Manor Research Limited
    Roke Manor Research Limited
    Founded in 1956, Roke Manor Research Limited is a UK company based at Roke Manor in Romsey, Hampshire. It is a contract research and development business for communications, networks, and electronic sensors. In addition to supporting Chemring, work is also conducted in both the public and private...


Disposals

  • Birkby Plastics
  • Hoskyns Group
  • Plessey Spa (Italy)
  • 51% share in Plessey Telenet acquired by minority partner in 1992.
  • 74% share in Plessey South Africa

UK

In 1997 British Aerospace
British Aerospace
British Aerospace plc was a UK aircraft, munitions and defence-systems manufacturer. Its head office was in the Warwick House in the Farnborough Aerospace Centre in Farnborough, Hampshire...

 and Daimler-Benz Aerospace
DASA
DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG, or DASA, was the former aerospace subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG from 1989...

 acquired the UK operations and German part of Siemens Plessey Systems
Siemens Plessey
Siemens Plessey was the name given to the Plessey businesses acquired by Siemens in 1989. Plessey, a British-based international electronics, defence and telecommunications company, was at the time the second largest defence electronics contractor to the Ministry of Defence and the largest supplier...

, respectively. GEC acquired Siemens' 40% interest in GPT the same year, renaming it Marconi Communications.

GEC Plessey Semiconductors (GPS) was purchased by Mitel Semiconductors
Mitel
Mitel Networks, is a high-tech company providing unified communications solutions for business. The company previously produced TDM PBX systems and applications but after a change in ownership in 2001 now focuses almost entirely on Voice-over-IP products.Mitel is headquartered in Ottawa,...

 of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 in 1998. After a number of downsizes, including the power semiconductor and silicon on sapphire
Silicon on sapphire
Silicon on sapphire is a hetero-epitaxial process for integrated circuit manufacturing that consists of a thin layer of silicon grown on a sapphire wafer. SOS is part of the Silicon on Insulator family of CMOS technologies...

 operation at Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Lincoln is a cathedral city and county town of Lincolnshire, England.The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln has a population of 85,595; the 2001 census gave the entire area of Lincoln a population of 120,779....

 being purchased in January 2000 by Dynex Semiconductor
Dynex Semiconductor
Dynex Semiconductor based in Lincoln, United Kingdom is a global supplier of products and services specialising in the field of power semiconductor devices and silicon on sapphire integrated circuit products...

, the company renamed itself Zarlink Semiconductor
Zarlink
Zarlink Semiconductor was a virtually fabless semiconductor company specializing in the design and manufacture of communication and medical semiconductor integrated circuits, modules, and other devices. In 2011, Microsemi acquired Zarlink in a hostile takeover and merged it it into its own operations...

 in 2001. The GPS fab in Plymouth was acquired by Xfab
X-Fab
The X-FAB Silicon Foundries is a group of semiconductor foundries, with headquarters in Erfurt...

 and still houses a small Zarlink test facility.

Plessey Semiconductors Ltd. The re-birth

After the sale of the Roborough site to Xfab
X-Fab
The X-FAB Silicon Foundries is a group of semiconductor foundries, with headquarters in Erfurt...

, the original Plessey Semiconductors site at Cheney Manor
Swindon continued to operate under the Zarlink Semiconductor name until it was sold to MHS Industries in early
2008. In February 2009 the UK business was forced into receivership following the collapse of the parent MHS Electronics business in France. After a subsequent management buyout the company traded as Plus-Semi Ltd.
The Roborough site ( 8" and 6" lines) was re-acquired from Xfab
X-Fab
The X-FAB Silicon Foundries is a group of semiconductor foundries, with headquarters in Erfurt...

 on the 1 January 2010 and the company re-named as Plessey Semiconductors Ltd.The new company will be transferring its Bipolar processes on Silicon & SOI into the 8” Plymouth facility during 2010, exploiting the combined technology base in the development of new processes and products in a number of markets. Specifically, it is focussed on military, medical, aerospace, space and automotive markets.

South Africa

In South Africa, following the successful GEC/Siemens takeover, after protracted negotiations, in 1991 Plessey South Africa became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sankorp under the new name of Plessey Tellumat South Africa Limited (PTSA). The addition of the name Tellumat had a double symbolism, firstly for the company's commitment to exports, as it is the name of its UK-based export subsidiary. Secondly the name derives from the Tellurometer South Africa's world first electronic surveying development—and by implication a commitment to ongoing electronic research and development.

PTSA continued to grow, with a strong focus on telecommunications and defence products and solutions and particularly with a major expansion into large projects, rolling out the microwave backbone of MTN, one of South Africa’s first GSM cellular networks and the installation of a fibre optic network and radio broadcasting system in Malaysia. A software division was formed through the acquisition of BSW data, largely staffed by engineers from the recently terminated South African space programme, in which PTSA had also participated, both in the electronics of the launch vehicle and the satellite itself.

1995 was a landmark year in the history of the business in South Africa. The merger of PTSA and Tek Electronics, the consumer electronics audio and video products, manufacturer and distributor, (also wholly owned by Sankorp) took the business full circle back to its consumer electronics roots. This resulted in the renaming of PTSA back to the original name of Plessey South Africa Limited. The full acquisition of AWA-Plessey Communications, which Plessey jointly owned in Australia with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd (AWA) and had a similar product portfolio, resulted in penetration into the Pacific Rim market. The culmination of this growth was the company’s listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) as the Plessey Corporation in the same year. Trading started off at R4.80 a share.
On the evening of the 6th of February 1996, a devastating fire swept through two bays of the White Road factory in Retreat, Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

 causing huge damage to stock, instruments, plant and work in progress. No one was injured, but work was disrupted for several weeks. Large sections of the factory had to be rebuilt.

At the end of 1996, Plessey Corporation sold off the Sales and marketing business of Telefunken, Pioneer and Satellite TV.

In August 1998 Plessey Corporation was bought by Dimension Data Holdings and World-wide African Investment Holdings for R1.6 Billion. The new owners retained BSW Data, Plessey Solutions and Communications Systems. The remaining divisions, notably with a product development and manufacturing focus, were bought back by a combined management buyout supported by Rand Merchant Bank. The corporate name was changed to Tellumat Pty Ltd. Tellumat continues to develop and manufacture Plessey-branded products as before and operates in the Defence
Defense (military)
Defense has several uses in the sphere of military application.Personal defense implies measures taken by individual soldiers in protecting themselves whether by use of protective materials such as armor, or field construction of trenches or a bunker, or by using weapons that prevent the enemy...

, Telecommunications and Contract Manufacturing
Manufacturing
Manufacturing is the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale...

 markets.

Plessey barcodes

The name is also used to refer to a barcode
Barcode
A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data, which shows data about the object to which it attaches. Originally barcodes represented data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or 1 dimensional . Later they evolved into rectangles,...

 symbology developed by Plessey, which is still used in some libraries
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 and for shelf tags in retail stores, in part as a solution to their internal requirement for stock control. The system was first used in the early 1970s by J.Sainsbury to identify all of its products on supermarket shelves for its product restocking system. The chief advantages are the relative ease of printing using the dot-matrix printers popular at the time of the code's introduction, and its somewhat higher density than the more common 2 of 5 and 3 of 9 codes.

Plessey barcodes use two bar widths. Whitespace between bars is not significant. The start element is a wide bar, and the stop element is two narrow bars. In between, the bars are in groups of four. High order bars appear leftmost. Narrow bars are zero and wide bars are 1.

This symbology is not self checking, though a modulo 10 or modulo 11 checksum (or some combination of both checksums, depending on application) is usually appended.

External links

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