The name Tannoy is a syllabic abbreviation of tantalum alloy, which was the material used in a type of electrolytic rectifier developed by the company. The brand had been trademarked by 10 March 1932, on which date the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company was formally registered as Guy R. Fountain Limited.
It became a household name as a result of supplying PA systems to the armed forces during World War II, and to Butlins and Pontins holiday camps after the war. Tannoy is now based in Coatbridge in Scotland, and is part of the Danish-based TC Group. Tannoy is famous for its ‘Dual Concentric’ speaker design which places the tweeter behind the centre of the medium or bass driver. ‘Dual Concentric’ is a trademark although Tannoy is not the only speaker manufacturer to design coaxial drivers. (See KEF or Cabasse.)
Tannoy’s image is particularly linked to studio monitors on the one hand and its Prestige range of home speakers on the other. Prestige speakers use Dual Concentric speakers and are easily recognisable by their ‘vintage’ design.
The term ‘tannoy’ in colloquial British English is used generically to mean any public-address system, particularly those used for announcements in public places, and although the word is a registered trademark, it has become a genericised trademark. The company’s intellectual property department keeps a close eye on the media and will often write to publications who use its trade name without a capital letter or as a generic term for PA systems, in order to preserve its trademark.