Aschner, Lipót

(Assakürt, January 27th, 1872. – Budapest, February 6th, 1952.)

Aschne,r Lipót

One of the success stories of industry in the first half of the 20th century is undoubtedly the outstandingly successful operation of United Incandescent-Lamp Factories, in which Lipót Aschner, General Manager of the factory, played a determining role.

In 1896, Aschner entered into the service of the United Hungarian Electrical Company, which had been just established and he worked here till the end of his life.

Ten years later, the name of the United Electrical Company was changed to United Incandescent-Lamp and Electrical Company by inserting the term of incandescent lamp into its name, and incandescent lamps were in fact regarded as determinant products of the company are simple objects, yet they cannot be manufactured without technical equipment or expertise. In 1909 the trademark TUNGSRAM was filed.

Aschner followed the development of the factory; during the year of his joining the factory 1,163,000 incandescent lamps were produced and at the turn of the 19th – 20th century 2 million.

Some years later, Lipót Aschner carried out cost analyses and economics calculations, through which he contributed to competitive production. Due to his successful activities he was promoted to higher positions and in 1918, he became general manager of the factory.

In 1922, modelled on the first industrial research laboratory in the world at General Electric Co., Aschner Lipót established the first industrial Research Laboratory in the country, which remained the only one for a long period.

Ignác Pfeifer, professor at the Technical University, directed it for a long time. In the middle of the 1920's, more and more up-to-date electron valves for radios rapidly coming into general use were developed in this laboratory.

Lipót Aschner also played an important role in the organisation of an international incandescent lamp cartel, the Phoebus-General Patent and Business Development Agreement. He was Vice President and President of this organisation several times.

Phoebus S.A. ensured that companies outside the cartel could not have a bigger share of the market than 5%. The factory took advantage of the possibilities provided by the cartel and the company was profitable until the last year of the war.

The history of the krypton lamp well shows the research and business policies Aschner successfully realised. Imre Bródi proved that krypton is more suitable filling gas than argon, but it was very expensive. Imre Bródy and Mihály Polányi developed the process of producing krypton from atmosphere.

After the German invasion Aschner was among the ones who were deported first by the Gestapo. He got to Switzerland from the Mauthausen concentration camp through exchanging of captives. Or to be more precise his mates could allocate the proper amount of money to the right place. Aschner – who was open-handed only in significant matters – also made a reproach to the financial management because of the large amount of money payed for an old man.

After the war – at the request of the Hungarian government – he returned home and stayed at the factory as general manager until his death or at least he played this role after the nationalization of the industry which was a condition for the factory to remain a joint stock company. Despite his old age he drove to work to the factory every day by his huge car which attracted attention in those days.