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What better way to discover Motorola's heritage than by exploring the stories behind some of our biggest innovations?

Motorola was a true pioneer in personal communications. We introduced the world's first commercial portable cellular phone. We even invented the groundbreaking Six Sigma quality improvement process, which became a worldwide standard for excellence. Learn all the details about our success stories — and more — right here.

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1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s



In 1928 Paul V. and Joseph E. Galvin purchased the bankrupt Stewart Battery Company's battery eliminator plans and manufacturing equipment at auction for $750. Galvin Manufacturing Corporation set up shop in a small section of a rented building at 847 West Harrison Street in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

The company had $565 in working capital and five employees.

The first week's payroll was $63.

The company's first product was the "B" battery eliminator - a device that enabled battery-powered radios to be powered by household electricity.


When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the entire country was affected. Galvin Manufacturing was not excluded.

After a year in the battery eliminator and radio business, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation expected to keep growing. But after the October 1929 stock market crash in the United States radio sales plummeted. The young company was close to failing.

Company founder Paul V. Galvin learned that some radio shops were installing sets in cars. Inspired, he challenged his employees to design an inexpensive car radio that could be installed in most vehicles. With the hard work of an enthusiastic team, Galvin was able to demonstrate a working model of the radio at the June 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Afterward he was able to bring home enough orders to keep the company afloat.


Television was introduced to Americans at the 1939 New York World's Fair, but the new medium did not become available to the public until after World War II. Motorola, one of several pioneering television manufacturers, began its own television research and development in the spring of 1939, stopped in 1941 to focus on war-related projects, and resumed work in the spring of 1945.

One of the war-related products Galvin manufacturing Corporation was working on was a battlefield radio.

Prior to the United States entering World War II, Galvin Manufacturing Corporation engineer Donald Mitchell developed a prototype of a handheld portable two-way radio that would "follow man in combat."

The U.S. Army Signal Corps was not interested and considered it a stopgap radio because of its short range of about one mile (1.6 km). But Mitchell continued to improve the design. He and his team developed a two-way AM radio that a single person could carry and operate with one hand. Tuned using sets of crystals for transmitting and receiving; it was battery-powered and weighed just 5 pounds (2.2 kg).

In 1940 Galvin Manufacturing Corporation engineers developed the Handie-Talkie SCR536 portable two-way radio. This handheld radio became a World War II icon.

War products were not the only focus for Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. In fact, Motorola entered the new field of television with the Golden View TV, model VT71, in 1947. Within a year the company had manufactured more than 100,000 sets and had joined the leading group of television manufacturers.


The U.S. economy recovered quickly after World War II. Because of wartime production restrictions, Americans were eager to buy many products, including home entertainment equipment and the new craze, television sets. The number of television stations in the United States grew rapidly, rising from 51 in 1949 to more than 400 by 1955. The national networks and independent stations increased the number of hours of broadcasting and introduced greater variety in programming.

U.S. consumers began to consider purchasing television sets for home entertainment, and the company, now named Motorola, designed a set to sell for less than $200. Sales took off and Motorola soon became one of the top television manufacturers in the United States.

In mid-1958, the company introduced its first stereo phonographs. By year-end, sales of stereo products surpassed the prior year's sales of all phonographs and hi-fi equipment. The company then combined stereos, radios and television sets in single units, creating early versions of modern 'home entertainment' centers. By adapting to changing tastes and demands, Motorola's sales grew exponentially and the brand name 'Motorola' became synonymous with 'entertainment in the air.'

After World War II, the U.S. automobile market also grew rapidly. Motorola founder Paul V. Galvin sought to extend the company's automotive business by adding a car heater to the product line. A Motorola gasoline-powered heater developed for the U.S. Army during the war was re-designed for civilian vehicles. It provided heat quickly and maintained a steady temperature inside the car. But the engineers couldn't solve some of the technical difficulties, including how to properly exhaust the gasoline fumes. In 1948 the project was abandoned, with the company absorbing a sizable loss.

Paul Galvin knew fostering a climate of innovation would lead to some failures. He considered it important to apply the lessons learned to help other ventures succeed. Galvin often was quoted as saying, "Do not fear mistakes ... wisdom is often born of such mistakes."


When the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was created in 1958, Motorola become one of its first providers of space communications. Among the early contributions were transponders on board Mariner II, launched in 1962 to explore the planet Venus.

In 1968, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began manned Apollo flights that led to the first lunar landing in July 1969. Apollo 11 was particularly significant for hundreds of Motorolans involved in designing, testing and producing its sophisticated electronics.


By the late 1960s, consumer demand for mobile phones exceeded capacity. Challenged by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to find a solution, Motorola, AT&T and others began developing systems based on small adjacent radio coverage areas called "cells."

In 1973, Motorola demonstrated a prototype of the world's first portable cellular telephone, using the DynaTAC (Dynamic Adaptive Total Area Coverage) system.

The invention of the microprocessor in 1971 set off a race to develop this new kind of integrated circuit for computers and other machines. Motorola joined the race in 1974 by introducing the MC6800 microprocessor, its first.

Meanwhile, other historic currents in the mid-1970s influenced Motorola's course. As oil shortages and environmental concerns prompted government regulations on automotive emissions, the MC6800 microprocessor showed promise in powering automotive engine controls to regulate gas mileage and emissions. Engineers refined its design to power such a system for General Motors cars. The redesigned MC6800 microprocessor now had a high-volume application and Motorola had an industry-leading partner.


The 80s were a time of beginnings and endings for Motorola.

The world's first commercial handheld cellular phone, the Motorola DynaTAC phone, received approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission on September 21, 1983.

The 28-ounce (794-gram) phone became available to consumers in 1984.

After more than 50 years making car radios, Motorola produced its last car radio in Stotfold, United Kingdom, in 1987.


In 1990 a Motorola business -- then known as General Instrument Corporation -- proposed the world's first all-digital HDTV (high-definition television) technical standard. Motorola acquired General Instrument in 2000. Unlike its competitors, GI presented to the Federal Communication Commission an all-digital system, a concept that was thought to be technologically unachievable.

During the 90s the Internet was gaining popularity. Motorola announced its first cable modem, the CyberSURFR model, on April 19, 1995. Later in the decade, Motorola completed a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) cellular phone call using the GSM cellular standard. The call originated in London, England.


During the first decade of the 21st century cell phone popularity raged.

In 2001 Motorola introduced a metal portable cellular phone, the V60 model, with Internet access, text messaging and voice-activated dialing. A year later, the V60 phone became available in all three cellular technologies--GSM, TDMA and CDMA--and quickly became a worldwide best seller.

In 2004 Motorola commemorated the 30 millionth cellular phone manufactured at its Jaguariuna Industrial and Technological Campus in São Paulo, Brazil.

In 2004 Motorola introduced the RAZR V3 cellular phone, an ultraslim, metal-clad, quad-band flip phone. The 13.9mm thin phone used aircraft-grade aluminum to achieve several design and engineering innovations, including a nickel-plated keypad.


Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. (Motorola Mobility) on January 4, 2011 announced that it has completed its previously announced spin-off from Motorola, Inc. and its shares will begin trading this morning on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol "MMI."

Motorola Mobility is composed of two industry-leading global technology businesses. The Mobile Devices business is an innovative provider of smartphone devices designed to fit every lifestyle. In 2010, the Mobile Devices business launched 23 smartphones globally, including the highly successful family of DROID™ by Motorola devices as well as BRAVO™, DEF™, FLIPSIDE™, MILESTONE™ and others. The Home business is one of the largest providers of digital set-top boxes and end-to-end video solutions. Motorola Mobility will leverage the capabilities of both the Mobile Devices and Home businesses to deliver innovative smartphones, tablets, set-tops and other converged devices – as well as content delivery and management, and interactive cloud-based services to consumers in the home and on the go.