- In stock
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September 1, 1981
Security-Columbian Bank Note Company
12" (w) by 8" (h)
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Sperry was originally founded in 1910 as the Sperry Gyroscope Company by Elmer Ambrose Sperry to manufacture navigation equipment, chiefly his own inventions – the marine gyrostabilizer and the gyrocompass. During World War I the company diversified into aircraft components including bomb sights and fire control systems. In their early decades, Sperry Gyroscope and related companies were concentrated on Long Island, New York, especially in Nassau County. Over the years, it diversified to other locations. During the frightening Cold War decade of the 1950s, a large part of Sperry Gyroscope was moved to Phoenix, Arizona and soon thereafter became the Sperry Flight Systems Company. This was to try to preserve parts of this vital defense company in the event of a thermonuclear conflagration. Sperry Flight Systems continued to excel at aviation electronics - avionics - and it also provided avionics systems for such NASA programs as the Space Shuttle.
In 1918 Lawrence Sperry split from his father to compete over aero-instruments with the Lawrence Sperry Aircraft Company, including the new automatic pilot. In 1924 following the death of Lawrence on December 13, 1923, the two firms were brought together. The company became Sperry Corporation in 1933. The new corporation was a holding company for a number of smaller entities such as the original Sperry Gyroscope, Ford Instrument Company, Intercontinental Aviation, Inc., and others.
The company did very well during World War II as military demand skyrocketed; it specialized in high technology devices such as analog computer-controlled bomb sights, airborne radar systems, and automated take off and landing systems. Sperry also was the creator of the Ball Turret Gun that was mounted under the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, made famous by the Memphis Belle. Postwar, the company expanded its interests in electronics and computing, producing the company's first digital computer, SPEEDAC, in 1953.
In 1955 Sperry acquired Remington Rand and renamed itself Sperry Rand. Acquiring then Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and Engineering Research Associates along with Remington Rand, the company developed the successful UNIVAC computer series and signed a valuable cross-licensing deal with IBM. The company remained a major military contractor. From 1967 to 1973 the corporation was involved in an acrimonious antitrust lawsuit with Honeywell, Inc.
In 1978 Sperry Rand decided to concentrate on its computing interests, and sold a number of divisions including Remington Rand Systems, Remington Rand Machines, Ford Instrument Company, Sperry Aerospace and Sperry Vickers. The company dropped "Rand" from its title and reverted back to Sperry Corporation. In the 1970s, Sperry Corporation was an old-school conglomerate, selling typewriters (Sperry Remington), office equipment, electronic digital computers for business and the military (Sperry Univac), farm equipment (Sperry New Holland), avionics (e.g. gyroscopes, radars, Air Route Traffic Control equipment) (Sperry Vickers/Sperry Aerospace), and consumer products (electric razors) (Sperry Remington.) In addition, Sperry Systems Management (headquartered near New York City with an office at Long Island McArthur Field) did a fair amount of government defense contracting. Sperry bought out and continued the RCA line of electronic digital computers: architectural cousins to the IBM System/360.
In 1986, after the success of a second hostile takeover bid engineered by Burroughs' CEO and ex-Treasurer of the U.S., Michael Blumenthal, and approved by then-President Ronald Reagan, Sperry Corporation merged with Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys. The takeover came about even after Sperry Rand used a "poison pill" in the form of a major share price hike to dissuade the hostile bid, as a result of which Burroughs had to borrow much more from the banks than was anticipated in order to complete the bid.
Certain internal divisions of Sperry such as Sperry New Holland, Sperry Gyroscope, Sperry Vickers, Sperry Marine and Sperry Flight Systems were sold off after the merger. The name Sperry lives on in the company Sperry Marine, headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia. This company, formed in 1997 from three well-known brand names in the marine industry - Sperry Marine, Decca, and C. Plath, is now part of Northrop Grumman Corporation.
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