are some subjects concerning Motorola that haven't been covered in any
literature I have read. As I remember those subjects, I will drop you
notes. - Ivan Saddler
MOTOROLA GOT TO ARIZONA
book, The Founders Touch, details the early history and failures of the
company. The first product and failure was a battery eliminator for old
tube radios. The product was made for Sears Roebuck. There are more
details in the book mentioned above. The second and successful - product
was radios for automobiles. At the start of WWII, that was Motorola.
Police radio at that time was simplex with base station transmissions on
AM just above the Broadcast band.
police cars had transmitters in the trunk of the patrol cars which
used the 30 MHZ band. Both of these radios were made by Motorola and
War shut down most civilian product manufacture. Motorola's skills,
concentrated in the Chicago area, were idle and capable. Motorola hired a
professor named Dr. Dan Noble to find replacement products. He and his
crew invented the Handy Talkie and the Walkie Talkie. Motorola produced
them by the millions.
the war ended, the Signal Corps came to Dr. Noble and asked Motorola to
move some parts of it's operation away from the Chicago area. They were
concerned that one atomic bomb could severely cripple the production
capability. Dan Noble told the government people that he would like to
move his R & D operations. The government folk agreed. When Dr. Noble
was young and in college, he would come to the southwest to vacation and
ride horses. He knew that research and development required educated
employees. He chose to move to the Phoenix area because of the proximity
to Arizona State University.
first group to come to Phoenix rented a place on Central Ave. This was the
first Motorola presence in this state. The group, all dedicated to
military electronics, worked there until the first Motorola -owned
building was completed. The building, now highly modified, is on 56th
Street in Phoenix. The front of the building was originally decorated with
Native American symbols.
When the invention of the transistor
was announced by Bell Labs (December 24, 1947), it started a revolution in
the electronics business. Dan Noble could see the connection between
transistors and car radios.
riding on an airplane shortly thereafter, Dr. Noble happened to sit next
to a physics Professor from Purdue University. His name was Bill Taylor.
The more they talked, the more Dan Noble wanted him to work for Motorola.
The bait he used was "How would you like to head the development of
transistors for Motorola?"' Very shortly Dr, Taylor decided to accept
Taylor had one more decision to make. Dan Noble said the development could
be done in Chicago or in Phoenix. Bill quickly opted for Phoenix. The
Military Electronics people needed all the space at 56th street, but with
some arm twisting from Dr. Noble, offered 1000 square feet of space. It
was fenced off from the rest of the building for security reasons.
Noble asked Taylor to concentrate on germanium (what else was available?)
for power transistors. Noble knew that the least reliable component in a
car radio was the electro-mechanical vibrator used to transform the (then)
6 volts DC to about 300 volts DC needed by the tubes in car radios. That
was very good direction. Power transistors didn't need high precision, nor
did they operate at high frequencies. For those reasons, manufacture could
staff of the semiconductor development group grew quickly to exceed the
space at 56th street. A home across the street from the 56th street
building was rented. Soon Motorola’s' first transistor, a germanium
point contact unit, was built in the kitchen of that house.
the potential for success, Dan Noble soon hired another professor, C.
Lester Hogan, Ph.D., to head the semiconductor operation. Quickly, a
building was assembled at 52nd street and Mc Dowell Road. Dr. Hogan added
to the R & D plate another set of items which would prove popular.
These were glass sleeve diodes, signal diodes, rectifiers and the
ever-popular Zener diodes.
limited start soon grew to a whole complex of buildings with production in
Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Mexico to name a few. The production of
the 52nd street operation supported Motorola’s ever increasing product
portfolio. In business parlance, it became the cash-cow for the whole
all businesses there are cycles. In the semiconductor field the cycle has
traditionally been three years from boom to boom with a bust in between.
As this is being written, Motorola has sold its' discrete and power
semiconductor businesses to the executives there. It is now called ON
Semiconductor. The military and space businesses have also been sold to
General Dynamics Corporation.
the electronics business, the only constant is change. -Ivan Saddler