KEMET Was There: 1919 to Today

A lot of history happens over the course of 100 years. We know. We’ve been around for a century’s worth of technological advances and milestones.

What does it mean to celebrate one hundred years of history? It means looking back on all the moments we’re proud to have been a part of and looking ahead at what that means for the future of science and innovation.

KEMET was there when the first computer paved the way for the sleek smartphones we now carry in the palms of our hands. KEMET was there when the first communications satellite was launched into orbit. And KEMET was also there when man first reached beyond our atmosphere and left a footprint on the moon.

But these are just a few of the instances that have shaped our history. Because we’ve fused our commitment to innovation by sticking to our mission of making the world a better, safer, more connected place to live, the results are a healthy list of some remarkable moments.

Take a journey with us through a timeline of historic moments where we can proudly say, “KEMET was there.”

1919 – Founding KEMET Laboratories

Hugh S. Cooper founded KEMET Laboratories in Cleveland, OH as a materials science and research organization. This would be the start of decades of innovation in chemical and metallurgical advancements.

Fun Fact: Did you know? KEMET derives its name from a combination of the words “CHEmical” and “METallurgical.”

1927 – Revolutionizing the Radio

Just a few years after the World Series was first broadcast on the radio (1921), KEMET revolutionized radio technology by developing a new gettering device that removed unwanted gases in vacuum tubes made of barium and strontium. This made vacuum tubes more efficient and durable, making radio communications more reliable. (This development also allowed for more reliable communication for the Allies during WW2.)

1931 – Entering the Electronics Era

KEMET entered the electronics industry by manufacturing getters for vacuum tubes. These getters were eventually used to power TVs and computers.

1939 – 1946 Powering the First Computers

From Colossus to your smartphone, KEMET has been at the forefront of computer technology since the late 1930’s thanks to advances in vacuum tubes that used KEMET getters.

  • 1939 – Atanasoff-Berry Because of these advances with getters, vacuum Tubes with KEMET getters powered the logical circuitry of the first generation of computers, beginning with the Atanasoff-Berry Computer.
  • 1943 – Colossus Colossus was the world’s first digital and electronic computer. This fixed program computer was built with 3,000 KEMET vacuum tubes.
  • 1946 – ENIAC The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was the U.S. government’s first general purpose, programmable computer. It was built with KEMET parts that included 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors, and 10,000 capacitors.

1958 – Powering Automobiles

KEMET has been powering automobiles since 1958, when it supplied components to Delco and Delphi that were used by General Motors. Some classics from that era are the Chevrolet Impala and Pontiac Bonneville.

KEMET was later awarded the Total Quality Excellence Award (TQE) by Ford Motor Company in 1992, further solidifying our dedication to upholding the absolute highest standards in automotive development, which remains consistent in KEMET’s manufacturing of electronic components and capacitors that are used in vehicles to this day.

1959 – Powering Aerospace

Shortly after KEMET entered the market for tantalum capacitors as one of approximately 25 U.S. manufacturers in 1958, KEMET built a pilot plant for the manufacture of solid tantalum capacitors that specialized in applications for jet aircrafts, missiles, and even satellites.

1960s – Propelling Space Exploration

KEMET has been a part of every major milestone in space exploration since 1962, beginning with Telstar 1, up to the most recent mission to Mars with Curiosity.

  • 1962 – Powering Telstar 1 KEMET officially entered space and the atmosphere beyond our Earth when NASA launched Telstar 1, the U.S.’s first communications satellite. Telstar was powered by 36 different tantalum capacitors from KEMET.
  • 1966 Leading the Market Shortly after the launch of Telstar 1, KEMET became the market leader for tantalum capacitors in the United States in 1966.
  • 1969 – Walking on the Moon In 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. While he was making history, KEMET was proudly there for the ride with parts that powered both the Apollo 11 shuttle and the structure used to guide its landing.
  • 1976 – Walking on Mars NASA didn’t stop when they made it to the moon and neither did we. KEMET capacitors were also used in the Viking Mission to Mars of 1976.
  • 1985 – Supporting Atlantis KEMET continued its support of space exploration into the 1980s. In October of 1985, the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis, built with KEMET parts throughout, made its maiden voyage into space.
  • 1998 – Arriving at the International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) launched its first component into orbit in December of 1998 using KEMET military, high-end products including precious metal electrodes (PMEs) for ceramics and hermetically-sealed and wet tantalum technology.
  • 2003 – A Return to Mars In 2003, Mars rover Opportunity, built with KEMET parts, landed successfully on Mars. Nicknamed “Oppy,” the rover was active on Mars until late in 2018.
  • 2011 – Built for Curiosity Mars rover Curiosity successfully launched in November 2011 and landed on the red planet in August 2012. It was, of course, built with KEMET parts.

2012 – 2017 – Gaming and Beyond

In 2012, KEMET entered into a joint venture with NEC-TOKIN, a Japanese electrical and electronic industrial and automotive parts manufacturing company. Some video game enthusiasts may recognize the name as part of essential components that powered well known, internationally popular gaming systems.

The Future of KEMET

Today, we’re focused on innovating for the world of tomorrow. We’re looking ahead at 5G technology, AI, autonomous driving, and alternative energy resources, among other advances. Because KEMET continues to be at the forefront of innovation and, just like Hugh S. Cooper did in 1919, we’re excited to help shape the future of this century and the next.

Over the years, and day after day, we’ve proven that we mean what we say when we say we’re all about making the impossible possible. It’s in our history, and in yours.

Recommended articles