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Bell and Howell LLC is a U.S.-based services organization and former manufacturer of cameras, lenses, and motion picture machinery, founded in 1907 by two projectionists, and was originally headquartered in Wheeling, Illinois. The company is now headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, and currently sells production mail equipment, buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) smart locker and kiosk solutions, and provides maintenance services for automated, industrial equipment in enterprise-level companies. Since 2010, the Bell + Howell brand name has been extensively licensed for a diverse range of consumer electronics products.
|Type||Limited liability company|
|Founded||February 17, 1907Chicago, Illinoisin|
According to its charter, the Bell & Howell Company was incorporated on February 17, 1907. It was duly recorded in the Cook County Record Book eight days later. The first meeting of stockholders took place in the office of Attorney W. G. Strong on February 19 at 10 a.m. (10:00 CT). The first board of directors was chosen for a term of one year: Donald Joseph Bell (1869–1934), chairman; Albert Summers Howell (1879–1951), secretary; and Marguerite V. Bell (wife of Donald Bell), vice chairman.
Historically, Bell & Howell Co. was an important supplier of many different media technologies. The firm built its name making such products as:
- A rotary framer on 35mm film projectors in 1907
- A 35mm film perforator in 1908
- Professional 35mm motion-picture film cameras from 1909 on
- Printing equipment used by motion-picture film laboratories since 1911
- The Standard Cinematograph Type 2709 hand-cranked camera (used in early silent films, it was so expensive that only Charlie Chaplin and three other people owned one, while the rest were owned by studios)
- Newsreel and amateur film cameras such as the Filmo (end of 1923) and Eyemo (1925), and Autoload EE (1956)
- Military 16mm film gun camera TYPE N-6A
- Regular-8 and Super-8 film cameras and projectors (all models)
- 16mm silent and sound projectors (all models); the famous Filmosound projectors dominated the market for many years
- Slide projectors (2" × 2"; 5cm x 5cm)
- 35mm filmstrip projectors
- Overhead presentation projectors (all models)
- Stereo cameras and stereo slide projectors through its TDC subsidiary
In 1934, Bell & Howell introduced their first amateur 8mm movie projector, in 1935 the Filmo Straight Eight camera, and in 1936 the Double-Run Filmo 8. The 1938 Kodak cassette holding 25 feet (7.6 m) of Double-Eight film was taken by the Filmo Auto-8 in 1940.
Although known for manufacturing their film projectors, a partnership with Canon between 1961 and 1976 offered still cameras. Many of their 35mm SLR cameras were manufactured by Canon with the Bell & Howell logo or Bell & Howell/Canon in place of the Canon branding. The firm dropped the production of movie cameras by the end of the 1970s.
Bell & Howell was a supplier of media equipment for schools and offices. The film laboratory line is now a separate company, BHP Inc, which is a division of Research Technology International.
It purchased University Microfilms International in the 1980s. UMI produced a product called ProQuest. They also had an Electronics and Instrumentation Division on Lennox Road, Basingstoke, UK. This facility produced several different types of transducers for applications such as North Sea oil platforms and the Ariane Space vehicles.
In the 2000s, Bell & Howell decided to focus on their information technology businesses. The imaging business was sold to Eastman Kodak, and the international mail business was sold to Pitney Bowes. On June 6, 2001, Bell & Howell became a ProQuest Company, which was then a publicly traded company, but is now a subsidiary of the private Cambridge Information Group. In September 2001, the remaining industrial businesses along with the Bell & Howell name were sold to private equity firm Glencoe Capital.
The company merged with the North American arm of Böwe Systec Inc. In 2003, Böwe Systec later acquired the entire company. It was known as Böwe Bell & Howell until 2011, when Versa Capital Management bought the company out of bankruptcy and renamed the company "Bell and Howell, LLC".
Based on the company's long history with motion picture equipment and other technologies, in 2010 consumer electronics manufacturer Elite Brands entered an agreement to license the Bell + Howell brand name to market lines of optical and imaging products including digital cameras and camcorders, binoculars, telescopes, lenses, and various camera accessories. Elite Brands similarly licenses the Minolta brand name for camcorders and digital cameras and is also the exclusive producer of Coleman electronics and optics products. BHH, LLC has also expanded licensing of the Bell + Howell brand name into a multitude of categories for a diverse range of products including lighting and security, personal care, tools, pest control, auto accessories and luggage.
In December 2018, Versa Capital Management, LLC (“Versa”) announced the successful closing of the sale of Bell and Howell to Boston-based WestView Capital Partners (“WestView").
Bell & Howell marketed a specially designed Apple II Plus computer to the educational market beginning in July 1979. The modified Apple had additional security elements for classroom use such as a tamper-proof cover. The case color was black but the inside was a standard Apple II Plus. The modified Apple II became known colloquially among computer enthusiasts as the "Darth Vader" Apple II for its black case design.
Bell & Howell founded an Education Group within the company in 1907. This Education Group created Bell & Howell Schools in 1966. In that same year, the Education Group purchased a controlling share of DeVry Institute of Technology. Two years later in 1968, Bell & Howell's Education Group, via a controlling interest in DeVry, acquired Ohio Institute of Technology in Columbus, Ohio. Over the years, the Education Group has bought and sold large interests in a variety of educational organizations and institutions, including Heathkit which supplied electronic kitsets for Bell & Howell courses.
Bell & Howell Zoomatic movie camera used to shoot the Zapruder film, in the collection of the U.S. National Archives
- Aldred, John (October 2007). "Donald J. Bell 1869-1934 and Albert S. Howell 1879-1951". Image Technology. 89 (4): 16.
- James, Grahame. "For Sale: Charlie Chaplin's Movie Camera". Retro Thing. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
- "DeVry Movie Projector Production Flickers Out". Chicago Tribune. Nov 4, 1965. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
- Information, Reed Business (October 7, 1982). "Senior Process Engineer (advertisement)". New Scientist. 96 (1326): 64. ISSN 0262-4079. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- Paula J. Hane (2001-06-11). "Bell & Howell Becomes ProQuest Company". Newsbreaks.infotoday.com. Retrieved 2014-08-16.
- Judge OKs $80M Versa Bid For Bowe Bell & Howell
- James, Grahame (August 11, 2010). "Elite Brands to License Bell + Howell". Digital Imaging Reporter. Retrieved 2022-01-06.
- "Minolta — Elite Brands Inc". Elite Brands. Retrieved 2022-01-06.
- "Coleman — Elite Brands Inc". Elite Brands. Retrieved 2022-01-06.
- "Bell + Howell Expands Offerings". License Global. April 6, 2018. Retrieved 2022-01-06.
- "About Us — Emson". E. Mishan & Sons, Inc. Retrieved 2022-01-06.
- "Apple and Bell & Howell Enter Education Market". Intelligent Machines Journal. InfoWorld Media Group. 1 (11): 77. July 18, 1979. ISSN 0199-6649.
- "Apple II Plus - Bell & Howell Model – Introduction". The Mac Geek. Pearl City Networks. 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
- "6-The Apple II Plus". Apple2history.org. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
- Page six of the Ohio Institute of Technology Student hand book from the school year 1974-1975
- "Unlocking the Vault". Forbes. Dated November 13, 2000, viewed December 7, 2006
- BHP Inc Website viewed December 7, 2006
- "Versa Capital Management Completes Successful Sale of Bell and Howell" (Press release). Businesswire. December 4, 2018.
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