In memory of 9/11, check out this picture of Raytheon. My dad has worked at Raytheon for most of my lifetime, and my grandparents worked here too. Raytheon has been in my family for decades, but the company has been around since the roaring twenties, right after World War I. It was founded by roommates Laurence K. Marshall and Vannevar Bush and scientist Charles G. Smith in Cambridge. They named their company The American Appliance Co. and planned to manufacture their new refrigerator. But what really got the company on the map was a little gaseous tube for radios. The tube could be used to plug the radio into the wall socket already in the home. This invention meant that radios would be rid of expensive, short-lived batteries, launching radio companies and radio buyers into a new era.
In 1925, just as The American Appliance Co. began to take off thanks to the radio tube. Company leaders decided to rename it Raytheon Manufacturing Company. “Ray” comes from the Old French word “rai”, meaning “beam of light”. “Theon” comes from Greek meaning “from the Gods”. Thus “beam of light from the Gods” was born.
One of my grandparent’s favorite stories is about the invention of a favorite kitchen appliance. Twenty years after the company’s founding, Raytheon scientist, Dr. Percy Spencer, was testing a vacuum tube called a magnetron. In his lab, he noticed the candy bar in his pocket had melted. Intrigued, he placed corn kernels next to the machine and was amazed to watch popcorn crack and sputter around the room. This led to the invention of the microwave oven.
In the photo above, George H.W. Bush visited Raytheon to talk about the Patriot Missile system. Patriot is a surface-to-air missile and is the countries primary missile of this kind. Though it’s accuracy was disputed, the President traveled to Raytheon in Andover and proclaimed, “Patriot is 41 for 42: 42 Scuds engaged, 41 intercepted!” President Bush showed his enthusiasm for Patriot. My dad even came to this meeting! The Sawaya’s see it all.
Thanks to the Raytheon website for having such great history: http://www.raytheon.com/ourcompany/history/early/index.html