As a young boy, James B. Lansing built a radio transmitter (which the Navy ended up confiscating), and the rest is history. After spending time in radio engineering, Mr. Lansing, with some other family members, began building loudspeaker drivers and radios for radio manufacturers. As movies began to grow in popularity, so did their need for better sound quality.
MGM Studios, in an attempt to improve the existing Western Electric designs and theater systems, enlisted the help of Mr. Lansing, who in turn designed a horn system that won an Academy Award. After the US government dissolved Western Electric's sound recording interests because of their monopoly, out of those ruins grew the Altec company which serviced theater chains. When Altec decided it needed a source for parts for these theaters, it bought Lansing's manufacturing company, and called the merged entity "Altec Lansing'. After pioneering many different loudspeaker technologies such as coaxial designs, and developments with magnets, field coils, and wiring, Lansing eventually left the company and started his own, the company called James B. Lansing Sound, Inc. (JBL, Inc.).
At JBL, Mr. Lansing continued innovating voice coil, magnet and driver technologies at a rapid pace, developing numerous new driver products. After his death in 1949, the company began leveraging its connection to Mr. Lansing in marketing its products, while also increasing its engineering and industrial design efforts. This led to enormous professional audio business opportunities with record, instrument, and theater companies, and a major presence in the emerging rock and roll phenomenon.
Eventually, Dr. Sidney Harman purchased, sold, and re-acquired JBL in the late 1960s and 1970s, while growing it into the household name it is today, continuing to pioneer loudspeaker development over the professional and consumer electronics industries.
JBL today is the leading pro audio loudspeaker in the world. JBL is also used on many of the absolute best sounding professional theaters. At a consumer level, JBL has a wide variety of products from affordable computer speakers to its horn-loaded Everest reference speakers.