|Fate||Acquired by GE in 1986, various divisions liquidated|
|Founded||October 17, 1919as Radio Corporation of America. Name changed to RCA Corporation on May 9, 1969.|
TV Station equipment:
TV broadcast antennae
The RCA Corporation was a major American electronics company, which was founded as the Radio Corporation of America in 1919. It was initially a wholly owned subsidiary of
An innovative and progressive company, RCA was the dominant electronics and communications firm in the United States for over five decades. RCA was at the forefront of the mushrooming radio industry in the early 1920s, as a major manufacturer of
RCA's seemingly impregnable stature began to weaken in the mid-1970s, as it attempted to diversify and expand into a multifaceted conglomerate. The company suffered enormous financial losses in the mainframe computer industry and other failed projects such as the
RCA originated as a reorganization of the
With the entry of the United States into World War One in April 1917, the government took over most civilian radio stations, to use them for the war effort. Although the overall U.S. government plan was to restore civilian ownership of the seized radio stations once the war ended, many Navy officials hoped to retain a monopoly on radio communication even after the war. Defying instructions to the contrary, the Navy began purchasing large numbers of stations outright. With the conclusion of the conflict, Congress turned down the Navy's efforts to have peacetime control of the radio industry, and instructed the Navy to make plans to return the commercial stations it controlled, including the ones it had improperly purchased, to the original owners.
Due to national security considerations, the Navy was particularly concerned about returning the high-powered international stations to American Marconi, since a majority of its stock was in foreign hands, and the British already largely controlled the international undersea cables. This concern was increased by the announcement in late 1918 of the formation of the Pan-American Wireless Telegraph and Telephone Company, a joint venture between American Marconi and the Federal Telegraph Company, with plans to set up service between the United States and South America.
The Navy had installed a high-powered
The Navy, claiming it was acting with the support of President Wilson, looked for an alternative that would result in an "all-American" company taking over the American Marconi assets. In April 1919 two naval officers,
RCA retained most of the American Marconi staff, although Owen Young became the new company's head as the chairman of the board. Former American Marconi vice president and general manager E. J. Nally become RCA's first president. Nally's term ended on December 31, 1922, and he was succeeded the next day by
As of its founding RCA was the largest radio communications firm in the United States. American Marconi had been falling behind industry advances, particularly in vacuum tube technology, and GE needed access to additional patents before its new subsidiary could be fully competitive. The result was a series of negotiations and a complicated set of cross-licensing agreements between various companies. On July 1, 1920, an agreement was made with the
In 1930, RCA agreed to occupy the yet-to-be-constructed landmark building of the