Anyone who is interested in automotive culture will find it difficult to ignore the Blaupunkt brand. The iconic car radios can be found in many classic vehicles; the manufacturer from Hildesheim has been a global leader in technology and design for decades.
Blaupunkt was part of European cars, as were the radios from Becker and Grundig. Anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s remembers it. Blaupunkt makes listening to music easier and driving a car more relaxing. There was a great new thing. The autoreverse function!
Autoreverse – one of many Blaupunkt innovations
Oh, man, younger readers will say. What is autoreverse again? The AI that automatically corrects the texts doesn't know it either - so it was a long time ago and forgotten. In 1980, Blaupunkt advertised the convenient autoreverse function of its radios, which made it unnecessary to turn over a cassette by hand.
Previously, once the tape was playing, you had to switch to the other side manually. Or, with inexpensive tape recorders, eject the cassette from the slot, turn it over, reinsert it and press the start button. The procedure was complicated and of course dangerous because it distracted from the traffic. To do this, pull over to the right to turn the tape, nobody did that back then.
Blaupunkt's roots go back to 1924. It started under the name Ideal Radio, radios and later televisions became big business. At the end of 1945, when the war was over, there was a new start in Hildesheim and from then on there was a hail of innovations.
The world's first FM radio
The first FM car radio in the world naturally had the blue dot, that was in 1952, just a year later there was the first rapid station change and in 1969 the first car radio with stereo reception. Again, worldwide, of course. Four years later something incredibly important happened. The ARI station identification – the start of traffic radio. Each radio then had an ARI button that brought stations with current traffic jam reports to the car. It worked brilliantly, ARI was mandatory on the way to vacation and when you got stuck in a traffic jam near Irschenberg, the message came along.
This was followed by digital frequency displays, advertising for autoreverse in 1980, RDS in 1988 and DAB and TMC in 1997. I almost embezzled the world's first production-ready navigation system. The Blaupunkt Travel Pilot was introduced in 1989.
Actually, such a company, which was a German icon and national heritage, should have an infinite life. Especially because Blaupunkt products were not only technically leading, but also in terms of quality and design.
You could immediately recognize a Blaupunkt radio by its design language; it wouldn't even have needed the blue dot. The quality of the design corresponded to the big names in industrial design such as Braun or Apple.
Blaupunkt is history and yet lives on
The car radios were named after cities and the more important the city, the better equipped the device was. The Blaupunkt Paris beat the Essen model by far, which would easily explain the hierarchy. Readers from Essen will now want to lodge an objection.
Unfortunately, in 2008, parent company Bosch sold the Hildesheim company to a financial investor. It happened as it always does. The accounts of the Robert Bosch Foundation filled up, Blaupunkt was then filleted, the financial investors made their cut and 8 years later the last employees in Hildesheim closed the doors forever.
But legends can continue to be marketed even after their death. The rights to the mythical blue dot belong to a company in Luxembourg, which issues licenses worldwide. A Polish company has been selling car radios and navigation systems again under the old name (Link).
This no longer has anything to do with the Hildesheim company, the goods come from Asia, but the traditional game with city names continues, Frankfurt is now beating Freiburg, and the design skilfully builds on old strengths.