|Founder||William J. Halligan|
Number of employees
The Hallicrafters Company manufactured, marketed, and sold radio equipment, and to a lesser extent televisions and phonographs, beginning in 1932. The company was based in Chicago, Illinois, United States.
William J. Halligan founded his own radio manufacturing company in Chicago in late 1932. Prior to this, he had been involved in radio parts sales for some years but decided the time was right for a handcrafted amateur radio receiver - the company name being a combination of Halli(gan) and (hand)crafters.
The new company was located at 417 State Street and immediately ran into patent difficulties when RCA decided to sue them for building radio sets without an RCA patent license. An opportunity came to purchase the concern of Silver-Marshall Inc. in 1933 and, with it, an RCA patent license as the most valuable asset.
In order to meet their financial obligations, Hallicrafters produced radios for other manufacturers until they were financially able to begin production of their own line of communications receivers, starting with the SX-9 'Super Skyrider', in late 1935.
By 1938, Hallicrafters was doing business in eighty-nine countries and manufactured the most popular sets in the USA. That year, the company began to produce radio transmitters. With the outbreak of World War II, the company prepared for wartime production, and was responsible for new designs and innovations for use by the U.S. troops; probably the best-known were the HT-4/BC-610 and related equipment used in the military SCR-299 communications package.
Production of Ham radio gear and other items was suspended until 1945. After the war, focus was again on consumer electronics, including radio phonographs, AM/FM receivers, clock radios and televisions.
The boom years for Hallicrafters were from 1945 to 1963, during which the company produced equipment considered by many to be superbly designed, including the famous S-38 receiver, which received a cosmetic "makeover" by industrial designer Raymond Loewy.
In 1952 Hallicrafters' main plant in Chicago housed general offices and the factory and was a block long. In addition to the main plant was a 3-story building of 72,000 square feet (6,700 m2) two blocks away, a 1-story coil plant of 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) on Chicago's north side, and 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) of production and storage space in three other buildings within a five-mile radius of the main plant. The company employed 2,500 people.
During the Cold war era, the company took active participation in the Blue Streak (UK) and Atlas (U.S.) missile projects, helped to develop capability for many areas of electronic warfare and in missile field, including code translator data systems, ground support equipment, electronic countermeasures testing and antenna systems, infrared homing techniques, also company provided tactically deployed maintenance and technical support teams for mentioned missile systems,it supplied airborne target simulator system for Nike Zeus, electronic countermeasure systems for Douglas EB-66E and Boeing B-52 aircraft. Its R&D divisions (Manson Laboratories in Wilton, Connecticut, and Military Electronics Division in Chicago) developed penetration aids for intercontinental ballistic missiles and participated in various other classified programs. In the words of its advertising sloganry, the company supported “America’s defense umbrella.”
In 1966 Halligan sold the company to the Northrop Corporation and Halligan family involvement ended. Northrop ran the company until the early 1970s, but by this time, fierce Japanese competition was putting pressure on the US domestic electronics market. Northrop sold the company name (but kept the factory, by then located in Rolling Meadows, a Chicago suburb) in 1975, bringing non-military electronics production to an end. The Hallicrafters plant became Northrop Corporation's Defense Systems Division.
The name and assets of Hallicrafters were traded over the following years, even though there were no products bearing the name. Since around 1988, the remaining assets and rights to the 'Hallicrafters' name and logos have been held by court-appointed trustees.(Note: one known 1980s product bearing the Hallicrafters name does exist - a 4-line plus intercom telephone. )
Hallicrafters equipment remains in use by collectors and vintage amateur radio enthusiasts.
Some of the more well-known Hallicrafters equipment from the pre-war period include:
Postwar Hallicrafters models include:
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The 1950s were the most successful years for the company. Many of its amateur radio products became classics including the HT-32 and the SX-101. Much of this equipment is still used today and sought after by nostalgia buffs and collectors.
The SX-42 was a landmark receiver...it is still sought out by collectors and radio amateurs