Progress Lamps Company was established in 1953 by Michael Dobes, a Slovakian migrant who arrived in Sydney with his family in 1949. Dobes (born Armin Back in the small town of Kovarce, Slovakia, in 1909) trained as an electrical engineer in Brno in the
Czech Republic, moving later to Prague with his wife Ruth who was a dressmaker. They were deported to Theresienstad concentration camp in 1942, then to Zamosc labour camp in Poland. After the war they settled in Bratislava with false documents bearing the names Barbara and Michael Dobes, finally emigrating to Australia in 1949.
Progress Lamps operated from premises on the first floor of the Royal Arcade, Pitt Street, Sydney, initially a small workshop, later expanded to include a specially fitted showroom. The company made domestic light fittings for sale through department stores Anthony Hordern and David Jones and also for specialty retailer Artes Studio. From 1956 to 1960 the company was an exhibitor in the building industry's annual Sydney Homes Exhibition held at the Sydney Showground (SMH 25 June 1956; SMH 20 June 1958; SMH 24 June 1960).
Dobes also worked directly with architectural practices. Commissions included the light fittings featured on the inside of the external columns of the National Library of Australia building for which he received a Meritorious Lighting Award certificate in 1969 at the annual awards of the NSW Branch of Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia.
Progress Lamps' workshop and showrooms closed in 1969 when the Royal Arcade was demolished and re-developed as the Hilton Hotel.
[refs: Papers of Michael Dobes: NLA MS 10428; Oral history interview with Michael Dobes and Ruth Dobes, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1985)]