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History of Motorola

Last night, Jodi and I watched Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. I wasn't sure about the prospect of watching it despite having enjoyed the first one. I saw a couple negative reviews of people saying the humor was too silly. I didn't get that impression at all in the movie. It's a family movie, for sure, so there is a little slapstick humor that was intended to make the kids roll on the floor, but for the most part they did a fine job of incorporating humor that was fun for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw of it.

We started the movie about 10:00 PM and after finishing a 57-hour week at work, my fatigue got the best of me. I only saw about an hour of the movie and then proceeded to wake up near the end when the music is getting all climactic and loud. I started to watch again, but upon seeing Jodi snoozing beside me, I decided to ignore the screen so that we could retry where we dozed off and finish the movie together at another time.

With the movie over and the credits rolling, I felt safe to watch while I tried to find the strength to get off the couch and start the task of getting ready for bed. They showed a little clip alongside the credits of a young man they had showed earlier in the movie. His mother was calling him down to dinner or something and he says, "In a minute!" The mother then calls him by his whole name as mothers often do when becoming impatient with their children. The joke is that earlier in the movie Ben Stiller's character finds himself transported into the famous black and white photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in the middle of the street in Times Square. During this brief stint of running around in the black and white street scene, he drops his elaborate cell phone and a young sailor, this kid I mentioned during the credits, picks it up. During the short credits scene, the young man is tinkering with the phone (which appears to be a Blackberry or a similar PDA style phone) and his mother, becoming impatient, calls out, "Joey Motorola, you get down here this instant!"

I might have found this funny, but I already knew enough history to know that the name Motorola didn't come from it's creator's surname. This aside, the joke would've still failed in its attempt to humor me for the time discrepancy. The famous photo, as shown here, that the main character gets transported into was taken at the end of World War II, more specifically on Victory over Japan day, August 14, 1945. From what I knew of Motorola, the company, it had emerged out of the Great Depression which took place after the stock market crashed in 1929.

I did some research and found that Motorola became one of the largest electronics companies in the United States, but like most companies, they had a very humble beginning. The company started in 1928 as Galvin Manufacturing Company. They made a product called a battery eliminator. Most home radios were designed to run off of battery power. The battery eliminator converted the radio to allow it to be plugged into a home's AC outlet. The company started to flop when the market crashed and people stopped buying anything that wasn't an absolute necessity. That's when the owner, Paul Galvin, began talking to engineers at a radio parts company who shared space within the same Chicago manufacturing facility as they. They formed a group who designed the first radio for an automobile in 1930.

They named the radio 'Motorola' because they felt that it suggested music in motion. This was because, since 1901, a company named Victor produced phonographs. Their most popular model was named 'Victrola'. This had become a household name by 1930. So, in essence, Galvin was combining 'motor' which was most commonly associated with vehicles and the last part of a household name known for music to produce the name for their designed automotive radio. They became so popular that Galvin changed the name of their company from Galvin Manufacturing Company to Motorola.

One of the people in the group that designed the radio was Elmer Wavering who was only a young man of 23 at the time. He had been working at the radio parts company when Galvin got the group together. Many years later, Wavering and several others would create the first automotive alternator that could be easily mass produced. In his later years he would say that the alternator was, by far, his greatest achievement. He said, "The car radio made driving more enjoyable, but the alternator made everything else possible." The consistent power of the alternator, as opposed to the inefficient generators that were previously used, made many things possible including power locks, power brakes, power seats, power steering, electric wipers, air conditioning, etc. This is just to name a few really. Take it from a guy who for years drove a 1959 Ford truck that had a generator. Almost nothing was power. Not even the windshield wipers, which ran off of air compression from the engine. They would barely be moving when idling at a stop. They'd quit working altogether while accelerating and then would finally work fairly well after having reached cruising speed.

The reason I knew some of this information already was because of my love for old cars. In the owner's manual for my 1962 Plymouth Valiant it shows a Victrola as one of the available options for the car. Yes, a record player, that mounted under the dash. One can be seen demonstrated here in this YouTube video. After having seen one in action, I want one really bad. And, who knows, maybe someday I will run across one on Craiglist for free. While I'm dreaming, though, I should really make it where they pay me to take it off their hands. And, the money they pay me is just enough to repair whatever may be wrong with it. Then, while repairing it I find some important piece of history inside. I open up a 1950's style diner and have the historical item as the centerpiece to the restaurant. And, people come from all over to see it, and discover Jodi's and my awesome healthy cooking. Then, people pay us millions of dollars as the restaurant is transformed into a franchise of healthy fast food restaurants that eventually forces McDonald's to close their doors. What? It could happen.

Back to what I was originally blogging about, I find it funny how a small business that figured out how to power those old huge radios of the 1920's without batteries grew into making these contraptions shown here, a phone/datebook/camera with flash/DVD quality video camera/address book/internet browser/voice-recognizing computer/television/GPS/MP3 player. There's probably more to mention but I don't actually have one, so I don't know all the functions.


Well, that was quite interesting. Thanks!

Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for the blog, and good luck with the fantasy!

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