Bang & Olufsen at the Movies

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B&O at the Movies!

Reel Pictures

Bang & Olufsen has had a very long association with the silver screen. Right back to the days of silent movies in fact! Sound movies have made enormous technological strides since then and if someone were to travel into the future from these embryonic years they would hardly recognise the progress which has been made.

When Peter Bang saw his first talking film in New York in 1925, it made a lasting impression on him. Such much so that within two years of setting up his company with Svend Olufsen they turned their attention to improving the erratic cinema equipment of the day.

They realised that the combination of weak, battery-run amplifiers and poor loudspeakers was the real reason for the mediocre sound experience. By 1928, when the first Bang & Olufsen sound system was used at the Danish première of 'Steam Boat Willy' starring Walt Disney's creation Mickey Mouse, the difference in sound quality was clear and a year later the company embarked on the production of amplifier systems for cinemas (see also Timeline 1 and Vintage Products).

Understanding that sound and picture belonged together, Peter and Svend decided to continue their work to produce a complete Bang & Olufsen cinema system. The film industry by then was making more and more 'talkies' and this created such a big demand for amplifier systems that Bang & Olufsen decided to establish a special company, BOFA a/s which was to develop and market sound movie systems. The resulting 'BOFA' system became a great success - so much so that it was awarded the Diplome de Grand Prix at the world fair in Brussels in 1935.

By 1939 BOFA had installed systems in the majority of cinemas in Denmark and the company continued to fulfil an important role for the Bang & Olufsen parent company until 1971 when it was taken over by the Dutch company Philips.

However, the association with the film industry has continued, but along different channels. The company now no longer makes sound systems for the cinema but cinema for the home instead. It is also featured quite prominently in films and and TV shows as it fits in with production companies' sets whether they be modern or more 'traditional'. When a piece of Bang & Olufsen equipment appears in a prominent position in a movie or a TV programme it's most likely through the influence of 'Propaganda', Bang & Olufsen's Swiss product placement agency.

However, the company never pays to have their equipment prominently placed in big blockbuster movies!

Created: 12th January 2007
Modified: 19th February 2007

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