BY SARAH GREGORY
Ever wonder how The Magnavox Company came to choose Greeneville for its most important Southern manufacturing plant?
The answer -- and a lot more interesting information about both Magnavox and Greeneville -- can be found in an article in the latest issue of Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, a publication of East Tennessee State University's Center for Appalachian Studies and Services.
GREENEVILLE NATIVE FRED SAUCEMAN IS THE EDITOR OF THE MAGAZINE, WHICH IS PUBLISHED IN JUNE AND DECEMBER.
The article, titled "'Why Not Greeneville?' Magnavox Comes To Appalachia," explains how Magnavox began operations in Greeneville in 1947, and describes the huge impact the industry had on Greeneville and Greene County during the next two-and a-half decades.
The article is authored by George Collins, of the Magnavox Historical Preservation Association.
Collins, of Greeneville, who is the retired director of Tusculum College's Museum Program and Studies, has worked during the past three years to build an archive of Magnavox artifacts and develop exhibits detailing the company's history and products.
NOT SOLD HERE
Now& Then is not sold on newsstands in Greeneville, but copies of the current Spring/Summer issue may be obtained by contacting Managing Editor Randy Sanders at (423) 439-7994.
A copy of the issue has been presented as a gift to the Greeneville-Greene County Public Library by Collins for the public's enjoyment.
Additional information about Now & Then is available on the ETSU website at http://www.etsu.edu/cass/nowandthen/.
PERMANENT EXHIBIT OPEN
Collins' article, along with other material related to Magnavox he presents in the magazine, is only the most recent of several projects related to the company in which he has taken a key role.
An exhibit called "Magnavox -- The Great Voice," developed by Collins working closely with former Magnavox employee Brumley Greene, is on permanent display at the Nathanael Greene Museum.
The exhibit opened in 2011 and features memorabilia, various models of radios, televisions, video games, and other Magnavox products, photographs, and other documents.
The gallery was financed by Greeneville businessman and philanthropist Scott Niswonger, who came to Greeneville from Ohio in the late 1960s as a pilot for Magnavox.
In 1981, he co-founded Landair Transport with a friend and fellow pilot. The company became a runaway success.
A MAJOR EMPLOYER
Magnavox, which was once Tennessee's fifth largest employer, accounted for a startling 40 percent of jobs in Greene County in 1971, according to Collins.
Magnavox -- and its successor in the early 1970s as the owner of the Greeneville operations, Philips Consumer Electronics Co. -- maintained a major presence in Greeneville until 1997.
Collins' article in Now & Then explains how Magnavox first began to consider opening a plant in Greeneville, and the vast impact of the company's decision to establish a very small plant here and see how it did.
By the early 1990s, Philips Consumer Electronics Company employed 4,988 people in Greeneville, the article states.
At that time, production capacity for the company's Greeneville plant was three million television sets per year.
Up to 10,000 color televisions were manufactured in Greeneville each day in three shifts -- including products under names such as Philips, Sylvania, and Philco in addition to the Magnavox brand itself.
The article also includes a timeline of major milestones in Magnavox Company history.
The milestones include: 1958's introduction of stereo sound in high-fidelity radio-phonographs for the home; automatic tint and color control for television systems in 1969; 1972's introduction of "Odyssey," the first home video game; 1983's introduction of compact discs to the U.S. market by Magnavox; and numerous others.
A "pictorial history" of the company, emphasizing its products, is also published in the magazine under the title "Magnavox's Vision For America."
Photographs of Magnavox products and advertisements were taken by Chris Small, of Greeneville, of Chris Small Photography and Fine Art.
The pictorial section includes a number of images showing Magnavox products from the 1920s through the mid-1970s.
An accompanying article, also authored by Collins, explores "The Sound of History."
That piece discusses the history of electronically-amplified sound reproduction, and explains how Magnavox -- a name created from the Latin phrase Magna Vox, meaning "great voice" -- came to be formed from a merger of existing companies in 1917.
The article states that "uncompromising insistence on quality" became the "hallmark of Magnavox, from the design of its cabinetry to the superiority of its sound."