The History of RCA

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The History of RCA Within 50 years Elihu Thomson, one of America's most prolific inventors, was granted 696 U.S. patents on inventions anywhere from arc lights, generators, electric welding machines, to x-ray tubes. But out of all of his inventions, it was the recording wattmeter, an instrument used to measure the amount of electricity used by a home or business, that brought fame and opportunity.(RCA Online 1) Thomson built one of the leading electrical companies of the eighteen hundreds along with fellow high school science professor Edwin Houston. In fact, he was lighting the streets in Kansas City Missouri with his system six months before Thomas Edison opened his first power station in New York. Eventually the two stations and others would be brought together under the same name, General Electric, after the merging of the Thomson-Houston and Edison General electric companies. Much progress was made with the electric companies and there were even some General Electrics in Europe and South America. (RCA Online 1) Although Thomson set up the first electric system, it was Edison who invented the phonograph in eighteen seventy-seven. Editors at Scientific American, who were some of the first to experience Edison's newest creation, were startled. "The machine began by politely inquiring as to our health, asked how we liked the phonograph, informed us that it was very well, and bid us a cordial good night." (RCA Online 2) Edison got his idea for the recorder when he worked as a telegraph operator at the Western Union office in Indianapolis. He figured out that during a night shift he could couple together two old Morse registers to capture incoming codes for later retrieval. He could sleep during his shift and catch up on messages later. (RCA Online 2) RCA, the Radio Corporation of America was formed during World War I because the Assistant Navy Secretary, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was convinced that radio patents should be under American patent when he learned that the British Marconi Company was about to buy-out part of General Electric. So when Roosevelt intervened General Electric not only purchased American Marconi, but also took control of the organization of the American radio control in October of 1919. They were later also merged with Westinghouse out of convenience and thus RCA was created. (MZTV Online 1) RCA's revenues came over $50 million just six years later.
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