History of Harman Kardon
In the early 1950s, Sidney Harman was the general manager of the David Bogen Company, a manufacturer of public address systems at the time. Bernard Kardon (January 8, 1914 - April 14, 1993 in New Rochelle) was the chief engineer at Bogen. Due to management changes at Bogen in the early 1950s, both men resigned. With $5,000 investment each, Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon founded the Harman Kardon Company in 1953.
In the 1950s Harman Kardon designed some of the first high fidelity audio products that lent to starting the high fidelity business. Integrated receivers (with a tuner, preamplifier and power amplifier) was an idea to introduce and provide high fidelity performance in a single unit. However, integrated high fidelity receivers were not new as, for example, Scott Radio Laboratories had manufactured such items in the late 1930s. The company's first product was an FM tuner.
One year after its founding, in 1954, Harman Kardon introduced their compact size high fidelity receiver, the Festival D1000. The D1000 was one of the world's first AM/FM compact Hi-Fi receivers, and a forerunner to today's integrated receivers. This monaural unit was aimed to introduce non-technical consumers to high fidelity and combined many now-familiar features such as a tuner, component control unit and amplifier in a single chassis. The shape, form function and size of the D1000 was a forerunner of the modern integrated receiver. Early Harman Kardon Hi-Fi equipment can be identified by a distinctive design of a copper plated chassis with a copper and black color scheme for panels and enclosures.
By 1956, Bernard Kardon decided to retire and sold his interest in the company to Sidney Harman. As the sole head of Harman Kardon, Harman continued to make the company a technical leader in Hi-Fi products. Sidney Harman would change the company's name to Harman International, but the receivers, tuners and amplifiers were still branded Harman Kardon. The products continue to be branded as Harman Kardon.
In 1958, Harman Kardon introduced one of the first stereo receivers, the Festival TA230, once again aimed at non-technical users with the intention of making high-fidelity stereo widely available. Stereo sound was achieved by using one channel from the AM band, and one channel from the FM band. This early form of stereophonic reception was called simulcast stereo. Early FM broadcast signals did not have the stereo carrier (pilot) signal that carried the stereo left and right channels. After the stereo signal standard was established, a stereo multiplex circuit connected to or built into the receiver was used to decode the stereo signal. The first true FM Multiplex Stereo Receiver was sold by H.H. Scott in 1961 with introduction of the Model 350 tuner.
In 1959, Harman Kardon marketed the Citation II, an early ultra wideband stereophonic tube amplifier. It featured 60 watts/channel output with a frequency response of 18-60,000 Hz at 20 watt output. The company promoted their philosophy of designing high fidelity sound using amplifiers that provided widest possible audio bandwidth. Although the human ear highest audible range is around 20,000 Hz, the full range of sound goes beyond that with harmonics and overtones that may be beyond the hearing range of the human ear. These harmonics interact with other frequencies to produce audible secondary sounds or interference.
In 1969 Harman bought the major speaker manufacturer JBL. In 1970 Harman marketed the first stereophonic cassette recording deck with Dolby B noise reduction. Stereo-Receiver, 1970s
In 1976, Harman supported Jimmy Carter's bid to become President of the United States. When Carter became President, he appointed Harman to be the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. As US law required appointees to have no direct business interests in day-to-day activities, Harman had to sell the company, and he sold the company to Beatrice Foods, a large conglomerate, for $100 million.
1980 brought the introduction of the Citation XX high current amplifier, which provided quicker response to large signal transitions from the power amplifier to the speakers. The Citation XX amplifier was called "the world's best-sounding power amplifier" by the editors of The Audio Critic magazine. The amplifier was designed by Finnish engineer Dr. Matti Otala [fi] who discovered transient intermodulation distortion (TIM) in 1970 and worked to mitigate its effects in the following years. The Citation XX was a project to get the best possible measurements of output signals, and the best perceived sound. A record player with tangential pick-up arm Rabco was released in 1980, too.
After the Carter presidency, Harman regained ownership of Harman International. In 1980 he purchased Harman International from Beatrice Foods for $55 million. However, the receiver group was not included in the purchase because Beatrice Foods had previously sold the group to the Japanese company Shin-Shirasuna. The Harman Kardon receiver group was the heart of Harman International, and in 1985 Harman purchased the receiver group and returned the company to its pre-1976 form.
From 1999 to 2007, Harman Kardon worked to develop digital processing for audio products. In 1999 the company introduced the CDR-2 compact disc recorder, the first with 4X high speed dubbing. In 2000, Harman Kardon produced the AVR-7000 audio-video receiver, which was able to decode and process HDCD.
Harman retired in 2007 at the age of 88. At that time he hired technology executive Dinesh Paliwal to succeed him as CEO.
On March 11, 2017, Samsung Electronics announced the acquisition of Harman for a reported purchase price of $US8 billion