Our History

The Story of Our Name
Why do we spell it that way? When the US government refused Edward V. Sundt a patent for Little fuse on the grounds that the words were too common, our founder compromised by reversing the l and the e to form Littelfuse.

2010

2010s

Advancing Beyond
Circuit Protection

In 2010, we began leveraging our global leadership position in circuit protection to expand into the power control and sensing markets, largely by acquisition. By 2016, we exceeded $1 billion in annual sales and achieved our five-year strategic goal of delivering a 15% compound annual growth rate.

Additionally, we opened our European Headquarters in Bremen, Germany, and three US R&D centers focusing on industrial, automotive, and electronics applications.

Inside the Littelfuse fab in Lampertheim, Germany; 2019
Dave Heinzmann, Littelfuse CEO 2017–

Dave Heinzmann

2017-

Gordon Hunter, Littelfuse CEO 2004–2017

Gordon Hunter

2004-2017

22

Locations in Americas

12

Locations in Europe

19

Locations in Asia

map-2010

Historical Technology Milestones

Wind turbine farm at sunset
Smart Wind & Solar Power
2014
Agricultural drones over crops
Agricultural Drones
2014
Person holding iPad
iPad
2010

2000

2000s

Solidifying Circuit
Protection Leadership

After decades of innovation and through strategic acquisitions, we developed the broadest and deepest circuit protection portfolio in the world.

Other milestones include relocating our headquarters from Des Plaines, IL, US, to Chicago, IL, US; expanding into the protection relay market with the 2008 acquisition of Startco, and reaching $500 million in sales in 2004.

Outside the Littelfuse global headquarters building in Chicago, IL, US; 2019
Gordon Hunter, Littelfuse CEO 2004–2017

Gordon Hunter

2004-2017

Howard Witt, Littelfuse CEO 1990–2004

Howard Witt

1990-2004

New manufacturing facility in Wuxi, China

Expanded electronics manufacturing facility in the Philippines

Outside the Littelfuse facility in Wuxi, China

Historical Technology Milestones

Partial top and bottom view of grey iPhone
iPhone
2007
Hand pointing to a location on a paper map
Google Maps
2005
Facebook interface on a desktop computer
Facebook
2004

1990

1990s

Becoming the Circuit
Protection Leader

By the end of the 1990s, we were a truly global company with 16 worldwide locations, and well on our way to becoming the circuit protection leader.

Milestones include emerging from Tracor ownership as an independent Illinois corporation in 1991, achieving ISO 9000 certification at all US facilities, and establishing Six Sigma goals organization-wide to drive excellence in a culture of continuous improvement.

Key Products & Applications

Howard Witt, Littelfuse CEO 1990–2004

Howard Witt

1990-2004

16 Manufacturing, distribution, sales, and engineering offices across 4 continents

New sales office in Hong Kong, China

New engineering office in Yokohama, Japan

Awards & Recognitions

  • 1999 Best Electrical Component Supplier

    Automotive Industry Magazine

  • 1998 Product of the Year

    Plant Engineering Magazine, Class J Indicating Fuses

  • 1995 Product of the Year

    Plant Engineering Magazine, 3AG Indicating Fuse

  • 1994 Product of the Year

    Plant Engineering Magazine, IDSR

Historical Technology Milestones

Google Search home page on a laptop on a desk with a plant
Google Search
1998
Front panel view of DVD player
DVD Player
1996
Linux code language on a computer screen
Linux Operating System
1991

1980

1980s

Breakthroughs on
Many Fronts

Breakthroughs in consumer technology abounded in the 1980s. All required circuit protection, driving innovation in electronics and automotive solutions.

The decade also marked our full commitment to the industrial market with the construction of a state-of-the-art power fuse manufacturing facility and our high-power test lab. In 1987, defense contractor Westmark Systems led a buyout of Littelfuse and Tracor.

Outside view of an industrial facility
Walter Clements, Littelfuse CEO 1981–1990

Walter Clements

1981-1990

Jack Hughes, Littelfuse CEO 1965–1981

Jack Hughes

1965-1981

New sales office in Singapore

New high-power lab in Illinois

Awards & Recognitions

  • 1986 Q1 Quality Award

    Ford Motor Company; Des Plaines, IL, US facility

  • 1985 Q1 Quality Award

    Ford Motor Company; Watseka, IL, US facility

Historical Technology Milestones

Nintendo Entertainment System controller and console
Nintendo Entertainment System
1985
Microsoft Word on a laptop computer
Microsoft Word
1983
Cobalt oxide cathode material
Cobalt Oxide Cathode
1980

1970

1970s

Setting Global
Standards

Innovating at the speed of modern life, we developed fuses for computers as mainstream use grew. In the automotive marketplace, we introduced the first blade-type ATO fast-acting fuse.

This technology soon became the global standard in the industry, solidifying the company’s growing reputation as an innovative leader in circuit protection.

Macintosh computer with hand inserting floppy disk, circa 1970s

Key Products & Applications

Two different sizes of Littelfuse Littelites Indicator Fuses, upright and horizontal views

Littelites Indicator Fuses

Office Electronics and Gaming Systems

Jack Hughes, Littelfuse CEO 1965–1981

Jack Hughes

1965-1981

New manufacturing facility in Piedras Negras, Mexico

Outside the Littelfuse facility in Piedras Negras, Mexico

Awards & Recognitions

  • 1970 Outstanding Supplier Award

    General Electric

Historical Technology Milestones

1970s era personal computer and keyboard
Personal Computer
1977
Components of eletronic ignition system
Electronic Ignition
1972
Cross-section of group of fiber optic cables
Fiber Optics
1970

1960

1960s

High-Tech
Innovations

The 1960s were unprecedented in our history. Recognizing the space exploration industry's potential, we entered the world of micro-circuitry with two subminiature fuse lines that were incorporated into the Gemini human spaceflight program.

Our founder Edward V. Sundt retired as the company’s chairman in 1965, when sales reached $11 million. In 1968, defense technology and services company Tracor, Inc., acquired Littelfuse.

Key Products & Applications

Littelfuse MICRO™ Subminiature Fuses; top, side, and bottom views

MICRO™ Subminiature Fuse

Aerospace

Three Littelfuse PICO® Subminiature Fuses

PICO® Subminiature Fuse

Aerospace

Jack Hughes, Littelfuse CEO 1965–1981

Jack Hughes

1965-1981

Thomas Blake, Littelfuse CEO 1954–1965

Thomas Blake

1954-1965

New manufacturing facilities in England

New manufacturing facility and headquarters in Des Plaines, IL, US

Outside the Littelfuse facility in Des Plaines, IL, US; mid-20th century

Awards & Recognitions

  • 1964 Gemini II Launch Vehicle Team Flag

    Critical Parts Supplier of a Life-Saving Component

Historical Technology Milestones

ARPANET schematic drawing
ARPANET
1969
LED lightbult mounted on ceiling
LED Lighting
1962
Hands holding cordless power drill
Cordless Tools
1961

1950

1950s

Expanding into
Home Entertainment

By the 1950s, we were well known for circuit protection capabilities and poised to take advantage of the growing popularity of home television sets.

This doubled within three years early in the decade, with over 29 million American homes featuring TV sets by 1954. Additionally, further expansion of our automotive product line extended the reach of our technology innovations to an even more diverse customer base.

Mid-20th century telephone, clock, radio, and television set on a table in a home setting
Mid-20th century Littelfuse advertisement for circuit protection for Admiral color TV sets

Key Products & Applications

Array of Littelfuse televisions fuses displayed from multiple angles

Television Fuses

Home Entertainment

Littelfuse automotive fuse block displayed vertically and horizontally

Fuse Block

Automotive

First Under-the-Dash Fuse Block

Littelfuse automotive switch displayed at 3/4 angle

Switches

Automotive

Littelfuse automotive relay display panel at 3/4 angle

Relays

Automotive

Thomas Blake, Littelfuse CEO 1954–1965

Thomas Blake

1954-1965

Edward Sundt, Littelfuse CEO 1927–1954

Edward Sundt

1927-1954

New manufacturing facility in Des Plaines, IL, US

Historical Technology Milestones

Integrated circuit, top view
Integrated Circuit
1959
Computer hard disk drive, internal view
Computer Hard Disk Drive
1956
Microwave oven with extended finger pushing control buttons
Microwave Oven
1954

1940

1940s

The Age of Radio
Communication

Developing circuit protection solutions for the communications and aviation industries drove business during World War II. By 1943, sales had reached $2.5 million.

After the war, increasing demand for televisions and portable radios created a need for application-specific circuit-protection innovations, opening doors to new markets and opportunities.

Vintage radio with extended finger pushing control buttons

Key Products & Applications

Small airplane in flight

Aviation Circuit Protection

Rotary telephone

Communications Circuit Protection

Phonograph record player

Consumer Electronics Circuit Protection

Edward Sundt, Littelfuse CEO 1927–1954

Edward Sundt

1927-1954

600 Associates in Chicago, IL, US by 1943

Began construction on an El Monte, Ca, US manufacturing facility to serve aviation customers in 1940

Inside view of Littelfuse manufacturing facility with two workers, early 20th century

Historical Technology Milestones

Early pager controls and display
Pager
1949
Kidney dialysis machine control panel
Kidney Dialysis
1944
Aqualung, top view
Aqualung
1943

1930

1930s

Electronics
Take Flight

Littelfuse Laboratories became Littelfuse, Inc. in 1938, having grown from $264 in sales in 1928 to $105,000 a decade later.

The rapid rise in popularity of automobiles and aviation allowed us to innovate successful fuse solutions for those markets, including a high-durability fuse for United Airlines that became the industry standard. Likewise, in the early years of the electronics industry, we innovated to meet the demands of electronics pioneers and grew alongside them.

Early 20th-century airplane in flight

Key Products & Applications

Early 20th-century Littelfuse automotive fuses with packaging

Automotive Fuses

Early 20th-century Littelfuse aircraft fuses with packaging

Aircraft Fuses

Edward Sundt, Littelfuse CEO 1927–1954

Edward Sundt

1927-1954

New manufacturing facility in Chicago, IL, US in 1939

Historical Technology Milestones

Z1 computer control interface and processing components
Z1 Computer
1938
Nylon thread on a factory loom
Nylon
1937
Early 20th-century radar detector interface
Radar
1935

1920

1920s

Small
Beginnings

When he was 27 years old, engineer Edward V. Sundt sold his car to raise initial working capital for what became Littelfuse Laboratories in 1927.

He patented the first small, fast-acting protective fuse designed to prevent sensitive test meters from burning out. In 1928, Sundt received his first order, worth $1.10, resulting from an ad he placed in Radio News Magazine. Sales in 1928 totaled $264.

Littelfuse founder Edward Sundt posing with his car, 1920s
Littelfuse advertisement in Radio News Magazine, 1920s

Key Products & Applications

Drawing of Littelfuse No. 1081-c Low-Energy Meter Fuse, 1927

Low-Energy Meter Fuse

Lighting

Edward Sundt, Littelfuse CEO 1927–1954

Edward Sundt

1927-1954

Littelfuse Laboratories founded in Chicago, IL, US in 1927

Photo of downtown Chicago, IL, US; circa 1920s

Historical Technology Milestones

Inner components of a transistor
Field Effect Transistor
1926
Small airplane taking off
Tri-Motor Airplane
1926
Traffic light displaying green signal
Traffic Light
1923