On July 7, 1922, a great American success story began: A few passionate visionaries created a high-tech venture in the shadow of a great university and developed a breakthrough product that transformed a nation.
One of the earliest technology start-ups, Raytheon was established in Cambridge, Mass., home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as the American Appliance Company.
The company's founders were Vannevar Bush, who would become dean of MIT's School of Engineering; Laurence Marshall, an engineer; and Charles G. Smith, a scientist who had done work on the electrical properties of gases.
Their revolutionary innovation was the S gas rectifier tube, a device that eliminated one of the cumbersome expensive batteries that previously powered home radios.
The tube transformed the radio into an affordable "must-have" appliance that could be plugged into a wall socket, turning radio into a true mass medium that brought the world into America's living rooms.
Raytheon quickly moved to the forefront of innovation in the electronics industry. During World War II, Raytheon employees contributed to the war effort. They supplied 80 percent of the magnetron tubes used in U.S. and British radars and developed parts for the crucial proximity fuse in antiaircraft shells, among other equipment.
After the war Raytheon began offering civilian products, the microwave being among the most famous. Raytheon engineer Percy Spencer discovered microwave cooking when, as he stood in front of an active magnetron, a candy bar in his pocket began to melt. Intrigued, he sent out for popcorn kernels – and they began to pop. With that, a new appliance was soon on its way.
In the decades that followed, Raytheon employees would build on the company's reputation for technology and innovation leadership. Today it stands as a global technology leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets.
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World War II Years
Raytheon met urgent production needs for magnetron tubes used by Allied forces for radar defense, and produced the Sea Going (SG) microwave surface search radar that went on U.S. Navy ships. The SG provided vital situational awareness in the major battles in the Pacific and helped eliminate the submarine menace in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Reaching New Heights
1950s and 1960s
In the 50's and 60's, amazing innovations were everywhere. The Raytheon-guided Lark Missile knocked a test drone out of the air, becoming the first missile-mounted guidance system and continuous wave radar capable of intercepting moving objects. Raytheon, then, filled the skies with a new generation of guided missiles – including Sparrow and Hawk.
To the Moon
The 1969 lunar landing captured the world's imagination, and Raytheon played a key role. For Apollo 11, Raytheon built the computer that guided the space vehicles in their journey, and its on-board microwave tube transmited radio and TV signals to earth, enabling millions to witness history live. The Apollo Guidance Computer gained the reputation of the most reliable digital computer of its time.
The AIM-7F Sparrow entered production to improve dog fight capability. The Hughes Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank missile demonstrated high effectiveness when introduced into combat.
1980s and 1990s
In the Persian Gulf War, Raytheon's Patriot Missile intercepted Iraqi Scuds fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia, becoming the first missile ever to engage a hostile ballistic missile in combat.
Raytheon today is a unique technology company and a world leader in defense electronics, with a broad range of products, service and capabilities. The proud legacies of Raytheon, E-Systems, Texas Instruments Defense, Hughes Aircraft and others have come together to form one company with one vision: One global team creating trusted, innovative solutions to make the world a safer place.
The Missions Of Tomorrow
Today, Raytheon is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, civil government and cybersecurity markets throughout the world. It provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cybersecurity and a broad range of mission support services. With the hard work and dedication of tens of thousands of employees around the world, Raytheon is well-equipped to meet the needs of its customers in more than 80 countries — today and tomorrow.