The Hammarlund story began in 1882 when Oscar Hammarlund, the Company's founder, came to America from his native home in Stockholm, Sweden.
Oscar had been a special tool designer and inspector of electrical instruments for the L. M. Erickson Company, leading instrument manufacturers and originators of the French-type telephone. He came tothe USA country to accept a similar position with the Elgin Watch Company. After four years with Elgin, hethen joined the Western Electric Company as superintendent of the Chicago plant. A further six years later he became designing engineer of the Gray National Company, working closely with the founder, Elisha Gray, the co-inventor of the telephone. During his 18-year association with Elisha Gray he was able to involve himself closely in the early development of radio. Finally, so keen were his interests in this field that he took the plunge and started his own wireless company at the age of 50!.
The Hammarlund Manufacturing Company was inaugurated in 1910 in a loft apartment on Fulton Street in lower Manhattan, New York City. . Many mass-produced items were also turned out by the small Hammarlund plant including double-throw knife switches, cordless table plugs for telephone systems, and Western Union call boxes. The variable capacitor, one of the most famous of all Hammarlund developments, was designed in 1916to meet a problem posed by a Hammarlund customer. By 1919, Oscar Hammarlund and his son, Lloyd, developed the Midline variable capacitor which became the industry standard and catapulted the company to the leading position as a producer of variable capacitors.
With its experience in design and production of capacitors and coils, Hammarlund was one of the first manufacturers to supply do-it-yourself kits to radio amateurs and home constructors. The Hammarlund-Roberts radio receiver kits first sold in 1925 were a top seller. By 1931 when the depression was developing and the kits market waned,, Hammarlund moved into the ready-made radio field concentrating on the high end of the price scale.
The company ethos of top quality built the reputation for reliability which has always been the hallmark of the Hammarlund name. The Company slogan "Quality without compromise" is a truism! The first commercial short-wave superhetodyne receiver the Comet-pro was also Hammarlund's first manufactured radio. Within five years, thousands of these receivers were in use aboard ships,at broadcasting stations and in use by amateur radio operators Worldwide. The Super-pro followed the Comet-Pro into production in 1936.
As WW2 commenced,expansion increased at Hammarlund with more than 2000 staff beinge employed a 14 different Hammarlund plants. Almost 90% of American wartime military electronic equipment employed Hammarlund capacitors. Hammarlund produced radar and electronic counter-measures equipment for the armed forces. The war years saw Hammarlund devoting all of its productive capacity to the military effort. In addition to turning out some 40,000 receivers for the armed forces, Hammarlund also built special equipment such as the SX or Navy Search Radar installed on big carriers, battleships and cruisers, and "jamming" equipment for blotting out enemy radio transmissions.
Shortly after the war, the market was flooded with surplus Super-Pro receivers at bargain prices. Notwithstanding competition from its own brand of receivers, Hammarlund quickly introduced the HQ-129 receiver for the radio amateur market. This was followed in 1947 by the SP-600 receiver which, remarkably even surpassed the Super-Pro in flexibility and performance. They were quickly selling at a rate of about 5000 sets per year, in spite of their high price. When two-way mobile radio was being introduced to taxicabs, railroads, power companies, pipe lines and industry in 1948, Hammarlund became the first to bring out selective calling equipment. By means of push buttons, individual cars could be alerted without disturbing others in the same fleet. Each car was alerted by a specific combination of tones transmitted before a voice message.
This experience with tone signaling led to Hammarlund's entry into the control and telemetry field. Tone signaling equipment also was produced for use in microwave systems sold to the armed forces and industry. A complete line of tone signaling equipment was developed which found a ready market among power companies, water works, gas companies, railroads and others who had need for transmission of control and telemetering signals over wire lines or radio links. The tone signaling business required different marketing channels than other Hammarlund products. It was also necessary to design and build complete systems instead of hardware only. Hammarlund's main emphasis today covers six major areas - amateur radio equipment - citizens band radio equipment - variable capacitors - two-way FM mobile radio equipment - commercial single sideband radio equipment - and military radio equipment.
Hammarlund products today are designed and manufactured at the Company's sprawling plant at Mars Hill, North Carolina. From this location is shipped the radio equipment which proudly bears a label familiar to three generations of Americans and countless thousands of Hammarlund friends overseas
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