SAGEM (Société d’Applications Générales de l’Électricité et de la Mécanique, translated as "Company of General Applications of Electricity and Mechanics") was a major French company involved in defense electronics, consumer electronics and communication systems.
Founded in 1924, SAGEM initially specialised in mechanical engineering and tool manufacture. Early in its existence it entered the defense sector. The company made a foray into telecommunications in 1942 with the first telex printer, although it was principally a defense-oriented company during the first few decades of the post-war era. This majority focus upon the military sector continues for several years after the departure of Marcel Môme, SAGEM's founder.
During the 1980s, SAGEM's response to the newly-developed fax machines by distributing Japanese fax machines while developing its own technology allowed it to quickly innovate and gain marketshare as a major player in telecommunications. Such products comprised a growing share of SAGEM's revenues over the traditional defense sector. During the 1990s, the firm went into automotive systems, becoming a large supplier of that sector. Starting in 1997, the sales of mobile phones grew enormously. SAGEM rapidly became one of the world's leading manufacturers of GSM telephones, as well as the undisputed leader of the French market, at one point holding roughly 50% of the market.
By the turn of the century, SAGEM was a highly profitable company, with net profits nearing the FFr 1 billion mark during 1999. In 2005, SAGEM and SNECMA merged to form Safran. Together, the companies focus mainly on aeronautics, defense and security. The communications and mobile telephony businesses were spun off as two independent entities: SAGEMCOM and MobiWire.