Rockwell International was the ultimate incarnation of a series of companies under the sphere of influence of Willard Rockwell, who had made his fortune after the invention
and successful launch of a new bearing system for truck axles in 1919.
Primary among the constituents of the final company were the Rockwell Spring and Axle Company, which formed into Rockwell-Standard, then merged with North American Aviation
to form North American Rockwell in 1967. They then purchased or merged with Miehle-Goss-Dexter, the largest supplier of printing presses, and Collins Radio,
a major avionics supplier. Finally they merged with Rockwell Manufacturing, run by Willard Rockwell Jr., and formed Rockwell International in 1973.
North American was responsible for the famous WWII P-51 Mustang fighter and Korean War-era F-86 Sabre, as well as the Apollo spacecraft. Once under the Rockwell banner
they continued on to build the B-1 Lancer bomber, the Space Shuttle, and most of the Navstar Global Positioning System satellites.
Rocketdyne, who had been spun off by North American in 1955 was re-merged in 1984, and by this point produced most of the rocket engines used in the US.
North American had developed a desktop calculator based on a MOSFET chip for use by its legions of engineers. In 1967 Rockwell set up their own manufacturing plant to
produce them, starting what would become Rockwell Semiconductor. One of their major successes came in the early 1990s when they introduced the first low-cost 14.4kbps
modem chip set, which was used in a huge number of modems.
Collins Radios were fitted to 80% of the free world's airliners. They designed and built the radios that communicated the Apollo moon landings and the high frequency
radio network that allows worldwide communication with US military aircraft. Rockwell designed and built the third stage of the Minuteman Intercontinental ballistic missile,
(ICBM) and the inertial guidance system (INS) that provided for their navigation. They also built inertial navigation systems for the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines.
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