History of Brush Industries

Charles Francis Brush


Charles Francis Brush, 1849 - 1929

Brush Industries was founded by Charles Francis Brush, an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Among his many accomplishments are the first practical electric arc light; ashless petroleum coke electrode (carbon electrode); and the commercial version of the lead storage battery. Entire industries were built around his inventions and major cities were lit with Brush Lights. One of his companies, the Brush Electric Company was part of a consolidation, which eventually led to the formation of the General Electric Company (GE). His penchant for making the world a better place to live ultimately led to the establishment of Brush Industries.

Brush Industries has a rich history in the world of machine-readable devices. Originally founded in 1919 by Charles Francis Brush as Brush Labs, a research company based in Cleveland, Ohio, the company was started with the intention to develop phonographic products that utilized piezoelectric crystals. Mr. Brush died prematurely in 1929 but his backers founded the Brush Development Company in 1930 to commercialize the inventions of Brush Labs. The newly formed company became the USA's biggest manufacturer of instrument recorders and other test and measurement instrumentation in the latter half of the 1930s. Brush's main business in 1943 was the production of piezoelectric phonograph pickups.

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The firm also offered several products in the magnetic recording field. It was the sole producer of the piezo electric hearing-aid receiver and marketed a sound mirror to aid in voice training. The Brush BK 401 Sound Mirror (1946) was the first tape recorder to be designed and built in the United States. The Brush oscillograph, which recorded electrical impulses on paper, was widely used by the medical profession. The company also produced a self-contained Mail-A-Voice magnetic recorder popular among servicemen during World II, which was adapted for use as an office dictating machine.

Brush Development Corp. was purchased by Clevite Corporation in 1952 to diversify its product line. Audio products continued being sold using the Brush trademark as late as 1960. The Clevite company exited the audio market altogether in 1963 and was taken over by Gould-National Batteries in 1969. The Brush magnetic head product line was divested in 1973 and was purchased by Forgflo Inc., a manufacturer of precision instruments and creator of new metalworking materials and alloys. The merger of these two companies formed what is still today, Brush Industries.

Today, Brush Industries manufactures magnetic heads for public transit, high-speed card manufacturing equipment, point of sale terminals, mobile POS devices or anywhere magnetic stripes need to be read or written. Brush Industries also manufactures a patented waterproof magnetic stripe card reader designed for outdoor/harsh environment applications. Brush Industries supplies magnetic heads for transit systems in Moscow, Montreal, London, Amsterdam, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago, as well as for buses, toll booths and other functions around the globe. Millions of transactions are processed daily using our products or cards encoded with our magnetic heads.

Brush Industries can help you. Call 570-286-5611.