Text Lite BV was a Dutch electronics company that was founded in 1979 by
five entrepeneurs. The company was based in Amsterdam (Netherlands)
and developed Electronic Display Systems and a so-called Pocket Telex.
The display systems were assembled in Ireland by Text Lite Ltd, a full
subsidary of Text Lite BV, that was also responsible for the distribution
of the Pocket Telex.
In the Netherlands, the PX-1000
Pocket Telex was marketed and sold by
In other countries, the PX-1000 was also sold by Siemens,
Alcatel, Ericsson and others. The device, that supported strong
encryption basedon the DES algorithm, was taken of the market in 1983
at the request of the NSA, and was replaced in 1984 by a delibarately
weakened exploitable variant.
In 1987, Text Lite BV got in trouble after Philips stopped ordering
Pocket Telex units whilst the company had enormous stocks of them.
As the display systems business was still running well, the company
tried to cover up the loss made on the Pocket Telex units. Finally,
in 1990, Text Lite BV went into receivership, leaving a debt of more
than 30 million Dutch Guilders (approx. 13.6 million Euros).
It became the first major stock exchange fraude case in
The Netherlands .
Some of the business was taken over by Text Tell Ltd. in Ireland
that had been separated out of the Text Lite group some time earlier.
They remained active in the business of Labelling, Safety and Identification
until the early 2000s. The company has since disappered .
Text Tell products on this website
Text Lite BV was founded in The Netherlands in 1979 by five entrepeneurs:
Kees Bannink, Cor Hommel, Wim Hommel, Arie Hommel and Hugo Krop, with the latter
being the technical director. The company started with Electronic Display
Systems such as the MM300, MM500 and MM1000. Each system consisted of a
series of 5 x 7 LED units that were mounted together as a complete
scrolling text display (Dutch: lichtkrant).
The first display units entered the market in 1980.
The display systems were designed and developed at Text Lite BV
in Amsterdam (Netherlands). The cases were produced by Samwell Electronics
in Taiwan and the LED panels were built by Liton (also in Taiwan),
whilst the PCBs were assembled in The Netherlands. At this time,
Wim Hommel was responsible for sourcing of components in Taiwan and Japan.
Later display systems, such as the MM-300, MM-500 and MM-1000,
were assembled in Enniston, Limerick (Ireland) by Text Lite Ltd.,
a subsidary of Text Lite BV, led by Kevin Neville who owned 15%
of the shares .
The first pocket telex, the PX-1000,
also entered the market in 1980.
For both product lines, the enclosures were designed by technical director
Hugo Krop , who was also responsible for the functional specification
of the products. Whilst the development of the hardware and software
of the PX-1000 was fully done in Amsterdam (Netherlands),
the actual units were produced by Samwell Electronics
in Taiwan. The later PX-2000
was built by Seiko (Epson) in Japan.
The initial version of the PX-1000 allowed messages to be sent
over a phone line in encrypted form, using the DES encryption
algorithm. At the time, DES was believed to provide high-level
security and a DES license was obtained from the American Bureau
of Standards for just US$ 8.
In 1983 however, the American
National Security Agency (NSA)
noticed the PX-1000 and expressed its concern against the
availability of the DES algorithm to the general public.
This resulted in a secret order from the NSA to let
implement an alternative algorithm and buy the remaining stock of
DES-based PX-1000 devices. During the time the new
algorithm was implemented, the
CALC-version of the PX-1000
(with a simple spreadsheet) was sold.
The PX-1000 was succesfully sold in approx. 10 countries
under various names, such as Philips, Alcatel, Siemens,
Commex and Text Tell. In the Netherlands, Philips actively
marketed the PX-1000 until the beginning of 1987, when the
orders suddenly dried out. As a result, Text Lite BV,
who still had large quantities of PX-1000 units in stock,
ran into trouble and tried to cover up the losses with the
successful sales of the MM-series display systems.
This went on until 1990.
In 1990, the company finally went into receivership, leaving a
debt of more than 30 million Dutch Guilders (approx. 13.6
Text Lite Ltd. in Ireland, that had been separated from the
group in 1987, took over the display business.
The bankrupcy of Text Lite BV became known
as the first large-scale stock exchange fraud case in The
bacause shareholder Arie Hommel had made some suspicious
transactions when Text Lite went to the stock exchange in 1984
. The resulting investigation took nearly a decade but finally
the Dutch Supreme Court ruled the board of directors
personally liable for the damage and for mis-management .
The following companies were part of the Lext Lite group or were affiliated
- Text Lite Holding NV
- Text Lite Holding BV
- Text Lite BV
- Surtronic BV
- Text Lite Ireland Ltd.
- Text Lite Communications Ltd.
- Text Lite Inc. USA
- West-Tec Ltd
- Text Tell Ltd.
- Text Tell Ltd. 1
7 Montpelier Parade
Monkstown Road, Blackrock
- Text Lite BV (1985) 1
Corn. Schuytstraat 74
1071 JL Amsterdam
- Text Lite BV (later) 1
1101 CC Amsterdam
These addresses are no longer valid.
- WayBack Machine, www.texttell.com
Internet archive, showing the state of the Text Tell website in 2001.
- L. Timmerman, JB Wezeman, Arresten ondernemingsrecht
Court rulings about fraude and mis-management at Text Lite (Dutch).
W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink. Kluwer, 2001. ISBN: 90 271 5322 1. p. 1350 onwards.
- Martijn de Mulder, Verrassing! Arie Hommel weer failliet.
About the backrupcy of Text Lite chairman A.W Hommel in the late 1980s.
Quote (Dutch). 6 May 2009.
- Gerard Reijn, Curator Text Lite boekt succesje in miljoenenjacht.
About the NLG 30 million claim on the Text Lite board.
Volkskrant (Dutch). 13 May 1997.
- Nico Goebert, Curator Text Lite weg wegens enquêterapport
About Text Lite's receivership.
Volkskrant (Dutch). 14 December 1994.
- Gerard Reijn, Mevrouw Hommel-De Vries
Volkskrant (Dutch). 13 May 1997.
- Hugo Krop, Personal correspondence and interview
Crypto Museum, 25 August 2013, 15 December 2013.
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