AGI was founded in 1915 as Radio Instruments Ltd, based in Croydon, near London. The company supplied a wide range of radio equipment for both military and civilian use. Surviving examples of these early pioneering radios are now popular with collectors and museums alike.
In 1936 shares in the company became publicly listed, and it changed its name to Aeronautical and General Instruments Ltd. By this time the number and type of products manufactured had expanded greatly to include sound ranging apparatus, signalling equipment, direction finding instruments, electrical navigational devices, and radio and broadcasting equipment.
During the Second World War the company supplied ‘AGIFLITE’ surveillance cameras to the Royal Air Force. These included hand held cameras for low level missions and state-of-the-art stereoscopic cameras for high altitude reconnaissance. AGI also supplied a variety of communications equipment to the Royal Navy and British Army.
In 1946 AGI started the ‘AGILUX’ brand of commercial cameras. The company was unusual in that, using its optical knowledge, it manufactured complex components in-house, including lenses and shutters. AGI soon produced a wide range of cameras, many of them introducing features never previously available in the UK.
The company left the civilian camera market in the 1960s, although many classic models are still in use with enthusiasts.
As well as cameras, post-war AGI continued to manufacture civilian telephone and communications equipment. Technical innovation was critical during a period that saw the industry move from analogue to microprocessor-based digital systems. Production of some public telephone types exceeded 100,000 units worldwide.
Sales to the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and foreign armed forces also continued as AGI continued to design and manufacture equipment such as gun sights and periscopes.
In 1980 the company founded a technology centre at Verwood in Dorset, which became the main operations site in 1988. In 1997 the company moved again, to the current location in Poole.
AGI developed and supplied aerial reconnaissance cameras worldwide into the 1980s, with over 30 clients, including the US Navy and the Brazilian and Swedish Air Forces. Many famous Cold War photographs of Soviet warships were taken using AGI cameras.
One of AGI’s longest-standing relationships has been with the Royal Navy. Today the company supplies marine-based systems to over 40 navies worldwide, including the ‘AGILOG’ speed log system, the ‘MORIAH’ wind system and the ‘AGIMET’ ship-based meteorological system.
Carrying forward decades of optical expertise, AGI also now designs and manufactures Visual Approach Systems that set the standard in ensuring safe fixed and rotary wing operations for the many of the world’s navies.
In 2007 AGI acquired Metalline International Ltd, and has since completely re-developed the ‘Metalite’ range of portable aviation lighting using the latest LED technology, becoming a world leader in this field.
Today, AGI meteorological systems operate at every major UK airport. The latest IRVR and Surface Wind systems are also integrated into the ‘AGIMET Air AWOS’, creating a single comprehensive airport meteorology product.
Since its early days, continuous dedication to innovation and high quality products has ensured that AGI has prospered.
Again leading the field for 2015, AGI has introduced anti icing light variants for its Helicopter Visual Landing Aids Systems. Thermostatically controlled for automatic operation between +1 deg C and -30 deg C, the design utilises the latest in energised film coatings to ensure ice free lighting operation, thus providing accurate and reliable landing information to the approaching pilot.