Our story begins in 1975. Bill Stephens was working as an engineer and running the Princeton, NJ dive shop he co-founded with several friends. When his firm tried to relocate the Stephens family, Bill quit and created the industry’s first automatic dive timer, called the Bottom Timer. Princeton Tec was born.
Bill Stephens creates the Bottom Timer. It’s the first, fully automatic underwater stopwatch for SCUBA divers.
Lifelong diver, award-winning cinematographer, and underwater film producer Stanton A. Waterman frequents the shop. In his 1971 film, Blue Water, White Death, Waterman captured the first cinematic images of the great white shark. He endorses both the Bottom Timer and the Bottom Light.
The non-profit Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) holds its first trade show. Princeton Tec joins as a founding member (and shows off the Bottom Timer). Fun fact: Princeton Tec still attends the annual DEMA trade show.
Waterproof digital watches arrived in the ‘80s and Bottom Timer sales began to drop. Luckily, Bill and his team had another product in the works. The Bottom Light was the first inexpensive, waterproof flashlight for divers. Made from high-quality plastic, this light soon evolved into the TEC 40 and TEC 400, and we added the iconic Sector 5 & Sector 7 pistol grip spotlights. When we introduced the waterproof Solo headlamp, outdoor enthusiasts took notice.
Princeton Tec moves from the back of the New Jersey dive shop to its first 2,500-square foot manufacturing and office space.
The Bottom Light is the first affordable, waterproof flashlight. It lights a path for Princeton Tec that continues to this day.
The first waterproof Solo headlamp graces the heads of outdoor enthusiasts from coast to coast.
Customers discover Light Emitting Diodes when Princeton Tec releases the industry’s first LED headlamp. The Matrix increases burn time from two hours to 40, using the same two double-A batteries.
Shockwave and Miniwave shine a new spotlight on SCUBA. These high-powered, pistol-grip dive lights become flagship products.
By moving our lights from hands to heads, we’ve been privileged to serve a new group of customers – from rock climbers and campers to sled mushers, utility workers, and global peacekeepers. After the Solo, we introduced the industry’s first LED headlamp, the Matrix, which raised the bar for brightness, durability and burn time. We’re always refining our design and manufacturing to create headlamps that can withstand just about anything.
The Maxbright LED Matrix offers even more burn time and efficiency with a brighter bulb. Hikers, campers and late-night snackers rejoice.
We first supplied the U.S. military with underwater strobe lights for Navy SEAL training swims. Today, we create both standard and custom products for law enforcement, first responders, military and other everyday heroes. From MPLS task lights to compact headlamps, these lights need to perform in even the most demanding environments. We take pride in serving the people who make our world a safer place.
Hal and Jackie Stephens take over Princeton Tec from Hal’s parents, Bill and Charlene.
The Point MPLS is the first product designed specifically for tactical users. This compact helmet light has a flexible neck and a simple push button. The white, red, IR, green and blue LED light options are a game-changer for pilots, medics and other field operatives.
The first-ever headlamp customization program enables customers to configure their own LED Fuel. Meanwhile, Princeton Tec takes the Spectrum show on the road – hand-building and custom-coloring these headlamps for our customers at festivals, outdoor events and retail stores.
The Charge MPLS is designed to fit the accessory rail of modern combat helmets. It’s the lowest profile light ever made, and the double-A battery is easy to replace in the field. The Charge is also jumpable, which means that the light doesn’t create a snag hazard when you leap out of an airplane and deploy a parachute.
Divers and dry-land adventurers make the League a new best seller. With a 12-degree angled neck, this lightweight and waterproof flashlight relieves pressure on the wrist.
In the early 2000s, we envisioned a durable, user-friendly light with lots of intuitive features. The design and engineering teams spent hours sweating the details before we introduced the Helix – a first-of-its-kind lantern that hangs, sits, dims, collapses, and glows in the dark. We’ve continued to expand this product line with new lamps, more lumens, and rechargeable models.
Princeton Tec introduces its first lantern, called the Helix. It’s collapsible, with different hanging angles and a removable globe that glows in the dark. Campers, explorers and well-prepared drivers latch onto this lantern for its user-friendly design and swipe functionality.
Today, Princeton Tec has two facilities, over 200 employees, and we run the whole business right here in New Jersey. We’re proud to be an American manufacturer and local employer. We also love hearing from customers who use our products from Alaska to Afghanistan to Brazil – and we know that people rely on Princeton Tec to scale mountains and save lives. Even if you don’t have plans to deploy into the desert, a great light can make it easier to dodge raccoons when you take out the garbage.
We’re not saying you should ditch the instructions, but we try to make easy-to-use products. Our designers and engineers push to create simple, intuitive controls and components that work anywhere. Once you’ve experienced our products, using a Princeton Tec light should feel like coming home. We've always used engineering-grade materials, name-brand components, and we create lights with chemical and UV resistance for customers who work in extreme and hazardous conditions.
The The Sync headlamp wins the Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice Award. Users can control a red LED, spot beam and flood beam with a simple power dial. The headlamp works with gloves or bare hands. Runners love how the dial interface enables them to change modes, even while in motion.
Princeton Tec consolidates from five separate buildings into a 30,000 SF machine shop with 48 injection molding machines and an 80,000 SF facility that includes offices, assembly, shipping and distribution