SE Labs (EMI) Ltd
SE Labs (EMI) Ltd
SE Labs Holdings was acquired by EMI in 1966 and renamed SE Labs(EMI) Ltd. The Company produced transducers in Feltham, Middlesex and expanded to share a site with EMI Electronics in Wells. The Wells site took on the instrumentation tape recording development and production from EMI Electronics, starting with the SE5000/TD9/TD10 range. The flagship product and the driver for rapid expansion was the SE7000 recorder, the world’s first truly portable instrumentation tape recorder. This was made possible by world-leading innovations in power supply, servo and magnetic tape head technologies,together with high-precision manufacturing. Headquartered in the Feltham factory, which also produced innovative electronics including chart recorders, oscilloscopes and modems, the Wells facility was run as an (almost) separate entity.
SE Labs was an important employer in Wells, here is a 10th anniversary tribute, published in 1978. Some of the people mentioned- Alan Robson, Mike Perry, Robin Wilcox, Malcolm Jones, John Doyle, Stella Woods, Hazel Bailey, Maisie Ashman and many more.
The development of multi-track magnetic recording was of particular interest to GCHQ. EMI Electronics was frequently tasked to advance the art, creating techniques and equipment that eventually found its way to the commercial sphere. This from 1963.
The original S.E. Labs(EMI) team at Wells was led by Managing Director Mike A. Perry, with Engineering Manager Geoffrey C. Nottley, assisted by Harry M. Harrison. The notable team of Engineering talent behind these products included Alan R. Robson, Len Barratt, L.E. (Ted) Lickiss, W.A. (Bill) Vigar and Les Kirbey all recruited from the main EMI facility. A number of businesses spun out of this original business, including Avalon Electronics, M5 Data, Somerdata and Phi Labs, all engaged in some form of data recording.
The instrumentation section also produced oscilloscopes. The innovation here was the first use of switched mode power supplies, that dramatically reduced the size and improved portability for these instruments. The EM102 was the first 500MHz bandwidth oscilloscope.