Marie-Louise Killick

Inventor

KILLICK, Marie-Louise, née Benson, British, 1918-1964. By combining some engineering skills, and an interest in sound recording, she founded a small company in 1938. Her work in the early 1940s was mainly on government contracts, improvements in gem cutting disk technology. Such processes needed advancing because hardened steel was no longer available for everyday purposes, the company made products for use in air/ground traffic communications. In 1945 she patented an improvement to styli, as used in gramophones for sound reproduction. The truncated sapphire stylus she introduced  produced better quality sound from 78-rpm records using the new microgroove design. Apparently her patent agent neglected to renew her  patents, and by 1948 Pye Company Ltd (in Cambridge) began production and worldwide marketing of her styli product. Marie-Louise began a long and painful battle, on two fronts simultaneously, against Pye’s infringement of her patent and also against the Patent Office to get her patents reinstated. Her design, called the Sapphox, was acclaimed by the Decca and Rank organisations, but had competition from products made by Pye, Walco, Telefunken and other companies taking advantage of her predicament. In 1961, Killick won a long court battle with Pye which was upheld on appeal. Finally she was made bankrupt and in 1964 died of cancer, after 20 years of incredible difficulty. Recent evidence suggests that Pye conducted a full-scale campaign of terror against her and the family during 1958-61. During this campaign her family rarely stayed a week at any address.

Further Reading:

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Barrie Blake-Coleman's definitive

in-depth biographic articles:

A Gem of an idea - Marie Killick Pt.1

A Gem of an idea - Marie Killick Pt.2

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