Tesla (Czechoslovak company)

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Stained glass Tesla Radio logo in Passage Světozor in Prague

TESLA (originally named after Nikola Tesla, later explained as abbreviation from TEchnika SLAboproudá, which means "low-current technology") was a large, state-owned electrotechnical conglomerate in the former Czechoslovakia.

The company was established as Elektra on 18 January 1921 and renamed TESLA on 7 March 1946. TESLA had a state-sponsored monopoly on electronics production in Czechoslovakia, and produced nearly all electronic products in the country until 1989. Many subsidiaries were created from the original brand, including those at Liptovský Hrádok, Hradec Králové, Pardubice, Žďár nad Sázavou, Bratislava, and Nižná. Later, some of them were transformed into independent state-owned companies. A direct successor became Tesla a.s. based in Prague-Hloubětín, now based in Prague-Vysočany.


Former Tesla headquarters in Prague-Hloubětín
Tesla 308U Talisman radio (1953)
Tesla tape recorders (B93, B115, B116, B730, B56 and B100) in Radebeul museum

This was officially reported by Radioamator in October 1946: Tesla the National Enterprise was set up on 10 August at the Mikrofon Factory in Strašnice with the participation of Yugoslavian Minister Branko Zlatarić, Minister of Industry and Mining of People's Republic of Macedonia Georgi Vasilev, Minister of Industry of Bohumil Laušman, representatives of government, institutions and universities. The enterprise was named after a genial Slavic technician and it documents the effort for convergence and cooperation among all Slavic nations. The main task of nationalized industry is to quickly overcome all post-war troubles and woes, and to create a socially healthy and productive work environment. Then the Minister declared Tesla as established.

The company had a wide range of production: TVs, radio receivers, transistors, integrated circuits, screens, speakers, gramophones, cassette recorders, CD players, videocassette recorders etc. However, quantity usually did not meet the needs of industrial customers and many products gradually became obsolete simply because they were not updated; e.g. one particular type of diode was manufactured for over 30 years without modifications.

Other products, e.g. some kinds of silicon controlled rectifiers (SCRs) or power transistors were competitive with the world market and so TESLA was the supplier for all Eastern Europe countries. Some high quality products were even exported to western countries, for example, the turntables NC 470 branded as NAD 5120, or NC 450, NC 452, NC 430 under the tradename Lenco.

In 1953, the production of the first Czechoslovak television Tesla 4001A began in Strašnice. The first Czechoslovak color TV Tesla 4401A began manufacturing in 1974.

The most well-known international Tesla product was the Tesla 308U Talisman bakelite radio designed by Igor Didov of Tesla Bratislava and made by several Tesla company branches between 1953 and 1958 and reel-to-reel tape recorder Sonet duo (1959-1965). It was also known for its military passive radar KRTP-86 Tamara (TESLA Pardubice, 1986), which was claimed to be the only one in the world able to detect military "invisible aircraft".

TESLA had to contend with both foreign and new domestic competition after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, and had difficulty competing effectively, which resulted in dramatic downsizing and privatization of the majority of its stores and production facilities. TESLA's logo is a rare sight in the present-day Czech Republic and Slovakia, as only a few of its subsidiaries have survived. One of its former subsidiaries, the Slovak JJ Electronic in Čadca is known for its production of vacuum tubes and SEV Litovel is known for its production of high-end turntables known as Pro-Ject.

The direct successor is a joint-stock company Tesla a.s. Prague-Hloubětín. It owns a trademark in more than 80 countries in the world and other companies lease the right to use the Tesla trademark from this company.

Tesla a.s. is a Czech manufacturer of radio and security electrical equipment for military and commercial use. Since 2011, the license for the Tesla brand is also owned by the Inter-Sat Ltd company based in Brno, under which the company manufactures set-top boxes, antennas, robotic vacuum cleaners, soundbars, motion detectors and multifunctional pressure cookers. In 2015, the first primary cells comes to market under the trade name Tesla Batteries.

Dispute with Tesla, Inc.

After series of actions taken by Tesla a.s. against the American company Tesla, Inc. (formerly Tesla Motors, Inc.), a contract between Tesla a.s. and Tesla Motors, Inc. was signed on 6 October 2010, establishing a coexistence of TESLA trademarks and regulating relationships between them. The preamble to the Tesla trademarks coexistence agreement establishes the following:

  • Tesla Motors owns a number of trademark applications and registrations consisting of or containing the word TESLA.
  • Tesla Holding owns a number of trademark applications and registrations consisting of or containing the word TESLA.
  • Tesla Holding and Tesla Motors wish to enter into a coexistence agreement relating to the TESLA trademark.


External links

Former TESLA companies with new name:

Some of the companies now using the brand TESLA: