RCA (Radio Corporation of America) began its storied history in 1919 New York. Ironically, the initial ownership consortium of RCA included General Electric (along with Westinghouse, United Fruit, and AT&T). Much later, GE took over the whole company, and the RCA name died soon after.
First Just Radio
RCA began in 1919 as a patent trust, owned by General Electric (GE), Westinghouse, AT&T Corporation, and United Fruit Company. The company consisted of a pool the patents of these companies in order to develop and commercialize radio technology.
RCA’s first president was David Sarnoff, who had previously worked for Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America. Sarnoff was a visionary leader who helped to shape RCA into a major player in the radio industry.
Phonographs, Radios, and Televisions
In 1929, RCA acquired the Victor Talking Machine Company, which was one of the leading record labels in the world. This acquisition gave RCA a major foothold in the music industry. By now they also made radio sets and soon would produce televisions.
RCA’s golden age began in the 1930s and lasted for several decades. During this time, RCA was a leader in the development of new radio and television technologies.
In 1939, RCA introduced the first commercially successful television set. The set was expensive and had poor picture quality, but it was a major breakthrough in the development of television technology.
During World War II, RCA played a major role in the development of radar and other electronic technologies. After the war, RCA continued to innovate and develop new products.
In the 1950s, RCA introduced the 45 RPM record, which became the standard format for singles. In the 1960s, RCA introduced the 8-track tape, which became a popular format for music and audiobooks.
Sale of the Company
RCA’s decline began in the 1980s. The company faced increasing competition from Japanese electronics manufacturers, and it struggled to keep up with the pace of technological change.
In 1986, RCA was acquired by General Electric. GE sold off many of RCA’s assets, and the company eventually ceased to exist as a separate entity. Ownership interests have since accrued to the likes of Sony and Comcast.
- Year Started: 1919
- Year Ended: 1986
- Origin Of Name: Descriptive
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: General Electric, Westinghouse, AT&T, and United Fruit
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: Comcast
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Comcast Universal
- Naics Code: 334220
- Location Headquarters: New York, New York USA