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DEARBORN - On Dec. 11, 1961 Ford acquired the Philco Corporation. Philco had its beginning in 1892 when its predecessor, Helios Electric Company, was founded and began the manufacture of carbon arc lamps. In 1906, the company began making storage batteries for electric automobiles, trucks and mine locomotives and, as a result, the firm’s name was changed to the Philadelphia Storage Battery Company in 1925.
When the popularity of radio grew during the early 1920s, the firm developed a “Trickle-Charger,” which enabled the radio owner to charge batteries at home, and in 1925 the company pioneered the “Socket Power,” a self-charging battery that operated from an electrical outlet in the home.
Chiefly, because of the invention of the “AC” tube in 1927, which almost wiped out Philco’s business, the company entered the radio business using unique mass-production techniques. By 1929, Philco grew from 26th to second place in the radio industry.
The name “Philco” first appeared in 1919 as the trademark on the Diamond Grid Battery, but did not become a part of the company’s official name until incorporation in 1940. Philco remained a publically held company until it was acquired by Ford Motor Company.
Through the years, Philco played a major role in numerous tech fields. Some of the earliest research and engineering in both home television receivers and television broadcasting were carried out by the company. In fact in 1932, Philco built an experimental television broadcasting station, W3XE, at its Philadelphia headquarters, the second TV broadcasting station in the U.S. Eventually, Philco was among the first to introduce a consumer television receiver in 1947.
During World War II, the company played an important role as a supplier of strategic war equipment to the government, producing radar, radio communications equipment, microwave, walkie-talkie sets, airborne radar, proximity fuses, vacuum tubes and rocket projectiles for the famed “Bazooka.” Philco even operated its own radio and radar school, training more than 12,000 men during the course of the war. The company’s activities expanded after the war to include missiles, missile guidance and control, advanced weapons and communication systems, air traffic control, microwave, satellite tracking, command and control centers, space ground support systems, space vehicles, space communications and computers. Ford transferred its Aeronutronic Division to Philco Corporation, which would design and manufacture weapons systems for the military and related systems for commercial application, in 1963.
Philco’s consumer products diversification, which started in the late 1930s with expertise in the air conditioning and refrigeration fields, extended to the electric range industry (1949) and home laundry business (1954). Eventually, the company became a major manufacturer of such consumer products as color as well as black and white televisions, FM and AM radios, portable phonographs, high-fidelity stereophonic record players, automatic washers, gas and electric automatic clothes dryers, gas and electric Duomatic combination washer-dryers, wringer washers, refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners and electric ranges.
By 1966, Philco changed its name to Philco-Ford Corporation. “This name change is intended to establish greater public recognition of the direct parent-subsidiary relationship of the Ford and Philco organizations and to underline the growing importance of Philco’s role in the worldwide Ford operations. From a marketing standpoint, we believe that the customer will find added assurance in dealing with a company whose name joins Ford and Philco, with all that each of the names means,” noted then Ford Vice President Robert Fickes.
By the mid-1970s, Philco-Ford changed its name to Aeronutronic Ford Corporation and by 1976 the company was known as the Ford Aerospace & Communications Corporation. Ford sold the Aerospace & Communications Corporation in 1990 to the Loral Corporation.
• October 11, 1892: Helios Electric Company founded
• July 9, 1906: Name changed to Philadelphia Storage Battery Company
• January 8, 1940: Incorporated as Philco Corporation
• May 10, 1956: Aeronutronic Systems, Inc. formed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company
• July 1, 1959: Aeronutronic Systems, Inc. merged into Ford as Aeronutronic Division
• December 11, 1961: Philco Corporation becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company
• June 13, 1963: Aeronutronic Division transferred to Philco Corporation
• October 6, 1966: Philco Corporation named changed to Philco-Ford Corporation
• October 10, 1974: Philco-Ford sells the Philco trademark for home entertainment products to GTE Sylvania and agrees to drop Philco from their corporate name in the U.S.
• March 31, 1975: Philco-Ford Corporation name changed to Aeronutronic Ford Corporation
• December 1, 1976: Aeronutronic Ford Corporation name changed to Ford Aerospace & Communications Corporation
• October 24, 1990: Ford Aerospace & Communications Corporation sold to Loral Corporation