HUGHES AIRCRAFT: FROM HOBBY SHOP TO AEROSPACE GIANT
1932: Hughes Aircraft founded in Glendale as division of Hughes Tool, to develop planes for Howard Hughes’ hobby--speed flying.
1937: Future Radar Systems Group founded as unit to develop radio equipment for Hughes’ 1938 round-the-world flight.
1939: Hughes proposes to build light weight wooden bomber, the D-2, later changed to twin-engine fighter.
1941: Moves from Burbank to new plant in Culver City. D-2 rejected by Pentagon.
1942: Allies with steel and shipbuilding magnate Henry J. Kaiser to build huge cargo flying boats, HK-1, origins of Hercules flying boat (Spruce Goose.)
1943: Air Force orders 101 photo-reconnaissance planes, the XF-IIs, adapted from the D-2.
1945: Pentagon cancels XF-II deal.
1948: Develops first radar allowing pilots to shoot at target out of sight.
1949: Develops the first radar-guided air-to-air missile, the Falcon. Firm profitable for first time.
1951: Builds plant in Tucson for missile production.
1953: Profits top $5 million, sales to military $200 million. Key scientists Simon Ramo and Dean Woolridge resign, sparking crisis between firm and Pentagon. Hughes Aircraft is incorporated in Delaware as separate company from Hughes Tool, then assigned to newly incorporated Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
1954: Ground Systems Laboratory established at El Segundo to develop frequency scanning radar for military defensive applications.
1956: Develops first radar system for guided missiles.
1957: Ground Systems Division moves to Fullerton, to begin electronic radar production. First system installed aboard the U.S.S. Albany guided missile destroyer. First weapons control system for supersonic military jets.
1960: First laser demonstrated.
1961: U.S. Navy buys first tactical data system, a shipboard integrated weapons tracking and control system.
1963: First synchronous-orbit satellite launched, relaying first trans-Pacific television signal and 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
1965: TOW wire-guided anti-tank missile successfully tested. Headquarters and engineering for Missile Systems Group moved to Canoga Park.
1966: Surveyor space probe makes first fully controlled soft landing on the moon.
1967: Applications Technology Satellite takes first color photos of the globe.
1968: Ground Systems Group receives contract to build NATO’s air defense system.
1969: Successful test of air-to-ground Maverick missile.
1972: Space and Communications Group established.
1974: Electro-Optical and Data Systems group established. First U.S. domestic satellite, Westar, launched.
1976: Howard Hughes dies. First maritime satellite, giving ships at sea point-to-point communications.
1980: First Hughes weather satellite launched.
1981: Radar Systems Group formed. Contract for AMRAAM air-to-air missile.
1982: Hughes Aircraft moves to new headquarters in El Segundo. Electro-Optical Group reaches $1 billion in sales, 10,000 in employment.
1983: Ground Systems Group reaches $1 billion in sales.
1984: Delaware judge takes control of the HHMI, later appointing trustees who decide to sell Hughes Aircraft.
1985: HHMI announces that firm will be sold. GM is selected as buyer.