1940 to 1960

 

>1940 Radiation Laboratory (a.k.a. the Rad Lab) formed at MIT as center for Allied radar and radio research.

 

 >1940 British Tizard Mission visits US to seek help manufacturing magnetrons tubes, the key to powerful, high quality radars for spotting enemy ships and aircraft. Raytheon’s Percy Spencer suggests key improvements and wins a small production contract for the company.

 

 >1942 Spencer and Raytheon president Laurence Marshall develop radical new mass production method for magnetron and end up producing more than 80 percent of all the magnetrons used by the Allies during the war. Raytheon also begins transition from being a supplier of components (such as tubes) to also being a maker of complete systems with introduction of its SG radar sets for the Navy.

 

>1940s  Polaroid undertakes wide range of defense projects including goggles, reconnaissance cameras, gunnery training equipment and the experimental DOVE missile. Its scientists also synthesize quinine to help protect soldiers from malaria –one later wins Nobel Prize for this work.

 

>1942 Georges Doriot, a charismatic Frenchman who has taught an influential course on manufacturing at Harvard Business School since the 1920s, becomes US citizen and brigadier general in Quartermaster Corps where he helps revolutionize the design, development and delivery of military goods.

 

>1943 Edwin Land inspired to create instant photography while on vacation with family.  

 

>1944 Team led by Royden Sanders at Raytheon begins work on revolutionary “continuous wave” radar, designed for fast, accurate targeting.

 

  >1945 With initial funding from the Navy, MIT begins to build the Whirlwind computer. Its completion in the early 1950s and continued funding by the Air Force contributes to development of SAGE project and pioneers many “modern” computer features such as interactivity.

 

 >1945 Polaroid introduces polarizing shield for attachment to automotive visors to reduce or eliminate road glare.

 

>1945 Percy Spencer at Raytheon patents the microwave oven.

> 1945 Norman Krim at Raytheon develops the Belmont Boulevard (1945), a first ever vacuum tube pocket radio using Raytheon subminiature tubes developed during the War.

 

>1946 Harvard professor and World War II US Army General Georges Doriot, fresh from his work for the Army Quartermaster Corps, which boosted quality and efficiency of Army supply efforts, returns to Boston and launches American Research & Development (ARD), world’s first public venture capital fund. ARD begins to provide money to Boston-area start-up companies.

 

>1946 Civil Aeronautics Administration demonstrates the first radar-equipped control tower for civilian flying in Indianapolis using Raytheon-built radar equipment.

 

>1947 Harvard computer pioneer Howard Aiken predicts that only six electronic digital computers will be needed to satisfy the computing needs of the entire United States.

 

>1947 North Shore Shopping Center; designed like a New England village, becomes first shopping center on Route 128 and first on the east coast.

 

 >1947 EG&G incorporated by MIT’s “Doc” Edgerton, Kenneth J. Germeshausen and Herbert E. Grier as Edgerton, Germeshausen and Grier, Inc. Over the next thirty years it grows to become a billion dollar defense contractor.

 

 >1948 Massachusetts passes highway construction legislation, completion of Route 128 “moves into high gear.” .

 

 >1948 Polaroid introduces its first “instant” film cameras.

 

 >1948 Brandeis University founded in Waltham, near Route 128.

 

 >1948 First suburban beltway-associated office/industrial parks established by Cabot, Cabot & Forbes and David Nassif Company in Needham near Route 128.

 

 >1948 Based on the movie, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House,"  General Electric and a local developer build a model “house of the future” in East Natick, which opens to thousands of enthusiastic visitors. Home features “Atomic Age” devices like television, automatic central heat, air conditioning, a home freezer, a kitchen garbage disposal, a washer-drier and a dishwasher. More than125,000 people tour the home in the first 30 days.

 

>1949 - Waltham nearly becomes home to one of the first commercial TV stations in the country, but WRTB (for Raytheon Television Broadcasting), licensed to broadcast on channel 2, was never built, and its license expired. Instead, WGBH, one of PBS's landmark stations, began broadcasting on channel 2 from the Great Blue Hill in 1955.

 

 >1949 A year after Bell Laboratories announces invention of transistor –a smaller, more reliable and efficient replacement for the radio tube --Raytheon becomes first company to offer such a product commercially. Becomes dominant maker of transistors in the world through mid-1950s.

 

 >1949: Jay Forrester at MIT develops tiny magnetic iron `cores’ as main memory in Whirlwind computer, the first reliable, large scale “random-access memory” (RAM).

 

>1949: Claude Shannon at MIT builds the first chess playing computer

 

>1951 In response to detonation of first Soviet atomic bomb and high level recommendations regarding the need to improve the nation’s air defenses, “Project Lincoln” – later Lincoln Lab – is established by MIT to begin studies that harness radar technology and Whirlwind computer. Effort will lead to SAGE air defense system.

 

>1951 With funds earned from a computer memory invention, Dr. An Wang, an immigrant from China, starts Wang Laboratories.

 

 >1951 Shopper’s World opens in Framingham, first multi-story mall.

 

>1951 - Bleachery and Dye Works close in Waltham; Raytheon buys plant.

 

 >1952 (circa) Successive approximation analog to digital (A/D) converter commercialized by Bernard Gordon at EPSCO. Technology becomes key to many emerging scientific and industrial products and eventually even music on CD-ROM.

 

 >1952 Route 128 opens from Danvers to Needham. Elephants get “cold feet” – refuse to lead opening day parade of dignitaries on miles of hot asphalt.

 

>1952 Inspired in part by the work of General Georges Doriot, US Army establishes Natick Lab to research improvements in clothing, food and equipment.

 

 >1953 C.S. Draper at MIT builds on his World War II gunnery inventions to perfect inertial guidance Space Inertial Reference Equipment (SPIRE), which guides B-29 bomber from Hanscom, AFB to Los Angeles without reference to any external information. In 1957 Draper undertakes development of inertial guidance for Polaris Missile, the first missile to have an on board computer.

 

 >1953 In California, Varian Associates becomes first tenant in Stanford University’s industrial park – the start of what would eventually become Silicon Valley.

 

 >1953 Fifty year old giant, United Shoe Machinery Corp.of Beverly starts division to create machines to automate the manufacture of radios for General Motors.

 

 >1954 Harnessing technology of “Doc” Edgerton’s strobe light, first ever Lumitype-Photon optical-electronic typesetter installed at the Quincy Patriot Ledger spelling the beginning of the end of the “hot type” era in publishing. . The Cambridge-based manufacturer introduces the commercial version of the technology, the Photon 2000 two years later.

 

 >1954 David Clark Company, a Worcester maker of women’s brassieres and girdles, gets contract for pilot’s pressure suit for U-2 spy plane.

 

 >1954 High Voltage Engineering moves to Burlington on Route 128. Company, established after World War II with funding from Doriot’s ARD, pioneers use of radiation to treat cancer, develops tools for research in atomic physics.

 

 >1954 Symbolic of the decline of many older industries such as textiles and shoes, Waltham Watch Company, pioneer of mass produced time pieces in the 19th century, ceases manufacturing operations. Firm is briefly reborn in 1957 as Waltham Precision Instrument Company.

 

>1954 Polaroid completes construction of its first plant on Route 128 in Waltham.

 

>1954 As Cold War continues to escalate, area firms benefit.  At Raytheon, Sanders continuous wave radar project leads to LARK missile, which makes first ever successful missile hit on a target drone in 1952. Sanders leaves Raytheon to start Sanders Associates in New Hampshire. Tom Phillips, future Raytheon president, takes over program and wins HAWK missile system award from Army.

 

> 1955  GTE Sylvania Electronic Systems opened the first building in Waltham "on top of the hill" in 1955, later expanding to Needham, and GTE-Sylvania's Semiconductor operation in Woburn.  (information courtesy of J. Hallett)

 

 >1956 Ohio-based Clevite buys Boston-based Transistor Products and establishes Clevite Transistor in former Waltham Watch factory to manufacture germanium transistors and diodes.

 

 >1956 Transitron founded – becomes high-flying maker of transistors.

 

>1956 Thermo-Electron founded in Belmont by MIT researcher, Dr. George Hatsopoulos, to develop thermionic energy technology – the direct conversion of heat to electricity.

 

 >1957. With $70,000 venture capital investment from ARD, Project Whirlwind and SAGE veteran Ken Olsen starts Digital Equipment Corporation in former Maynard woolen mill. Makes world’s first minicomputers, affordable to small companies, researchers and educational institutions.

 

 >1957 Servomechanisms Laboratory at MIT develops one of the first practical application to computer-assisted manufacturing using new programming language called: "Automatically Programmed Tools" (APT). Computer controlled milling machine automatically produced an ashtray without direct human labor.

 

 >1957 Honeywell's Electronic Data Processing Division (EDP), originally formed in 1955 as a joint venture with Raytheon, introduces its first computer, the Datamatic 1000, based on vacuum tubes.

 

 >1957 Lexington-based Itek founded with help of Rockefeller investment, acquires assets of Boston University Optical Research Laboratory, delves into wide range of futuristic technologies and begins secret development of Corona, the first spy satellites for US government.

 

 >1958, MITRE, a non-profit defense research lab with roots at MIT, is launched near Route 128 in Burlington, Mass., to absorb SAGE personnel from Lincoln Lab and continue this and other defense-related developments.

 

>1958 Famed Australian polar explorer, and US Army Natick Lab consultant on arctic clothing and survival equipment, Sir Hubert Wilkins, dies in Framingham. His ashes are later scattered at the North Pole by the crew of an American submarine

.

 >1959 Stanford University research park-based Varian purchases Bomac Laboratories, a Route 128-based maker of tubes and components.

 

 >1959 Sylvania merges with General Telephone to form General Telephone & Electronics -- later, GTE. In 1965, the company's lighting division opens its Danvers headquarters. In the 1970s and 1980s, the division gradually moved out of consumer electronics to focus on lighting and precision materials.

 

 >1959 John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky start the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

 

 >1959 Jack Kilby from Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce from Fairchild Semiconductor (the third company to locate in the Stamford University research park), co-invent the integrated circuit, with many transistors on a single piece of silicon. This begins the eclipse of the “discrete” (single device) semiconductor manufacturers of the Boston area. Invention eventually allows millions of transistors and other circuit elements to be made on a single “chip” of silicon

 

>1960, Raytheon HAWK becomes first missile to intercept and hit another missile – “like hitting a bullet with a bullet.”

 

 >1960 - William Garth, Jr., president and founder, and Ellis Hanson, Chief Engineer of Photon, Inc., start successor business, the Compugraphic Corporation in Brookline to harness computer technology to typesetting. By 1970s, the firm has achieved worldwide dominance of the field.

 

>1960 Tyco founded by Arthur J. Rosenburg, Ph.D., to do experimental work for the government. Tyco Laboratories incorporated in 1962, goes public two years later and begins growth and acquisition phase that leads eventually to Fortune 500 status and employment of more than 250,000 people as of 2005.

 

 >1960s  In conjunction with NASA and the Air Force, freeze dried food & “tube food” for astronauts developed at Natick Army Labs. Lab also patents first genetically modified organism – a type of yeast modified by irradiation.

 

 >1960 General Radio moves to new factory near train station in West Concord. Employees in Cambridge, Belmont, and Waltham can commute by train or car.

 

 >1960 New England continues dominance in shoe industry, manufacturing 40 percent of shoes purchased in the US.

 

 >1960. Clevite moves to new 128 facility near Trapelo Road in Waltham.. Transistor business in Massachusetts begins to decline as other regions expand production. Clevite later sold to Litton and facility becomes home to Honeywell Electronic Data Processing (EDP) division.

 

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