Ford SYNC made news in the early 21st century by offering motorists affordable and available on-the-road connectivity for personal electronics. But several decades before that, Ford was a consumer powerhouse for state-of-the-art electronics and household appliances.
In 1956, we officially entered the defense and aerospace industry when Aeronutronic became a division of Ford Motor Company. The Western Development Laboratories (WDL) Division of Aeronutronic, which would later play a major role in high-profile technological successes, was formed in Palo Alto, California.
In December 1961, we acquired Philco, which produced consumer electronics and home appliances.
Philco began in 1892 as Helios Electric Company. Beginning in 1951, Philco produced many types of military and space equipment for the U.S. government, including radar, missiles, missile guidance and control, advanced weapons and communications systems, air traffic control, microwave, satellite tracking, command and control centers, space ground support systems, space vehicles, space communications and computers.
In the years following its acquisition by Ford Motor Company, Philco became an international producer of a range of household appliances and electronics, including black-and-white and color televisions, AM and FM radios, portable phonographs, high-fidelity stereophonic record players, automatic washers, gas and electric clothes dryers, washer-dryers, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and electric ranges.
In June 1963, we transferred our Aeronutronic Division to Philco, which at that time had three divisions working in communications, electronics and related fields. Under Ford Motor Company, Philco continued developing sophisticated aerospace tracking systems and communications satellites. The NASA Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, was designed in the mid-1960s by the Philco division of Ford Motor Company. Philco also helped develop ARPANET, which eventually evolved into the Internet.
Over the years, we withdrew from some of the electronics enterprises of Philco. In 1988, the company became Ford Aerospace Corporation, which was sold in 1990 to Loral Space Systems.