History Excerpt from Wikipedia
TRW originated in 1901 with the Cleveland Cap Screw Company, founded by David Kurtz and four other Cleveland residents. Their initial products were bolts with heads electrically welded to the shafts. In 1904, a welder named Charles E. Thompson adapted their process to making automobile engine valves, and, by 1915, the company was the largest valve producer in the United States. Charles Thompson was named General Manager of the company, which became Thompson Products in 1926. Their experimental hollow sodium-cooled valves aided Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic.
In 1937, Thompson Motor Products bought J. A. Drake and Sons (JADSON). The company made high-performance valves that were used in many racing engines of the day, including the Miller Offy. Dale Drake (son of J. A. Drake) bought the Offy engine design with his partner Louis Meyer in 1946 and won the Indianapolis 500 twenty-seven times, more than any other engine design.
During the period leading up to World War II, through the end of the Korean war, Thompson Products was a key manufacturer of component parts for aircraft engines, including aircraft valves. The TAPCO plant, owned by the U.S. Government, but operated by Thompson Products, extended for almost a mile along Cleveland's Euclid Avenue. It employed over 16,000 workers at the peak of WW II production. As jet aircraft replaced piston engined aircraft, Thompson Products became a major manufacturer of turbine blades for jet engines
In 1950, Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge while working for Hughes Aircraft, led the development of the Falcon radar-guided missile, among other projects. They grew frustrated with Howard Hughes’ management, and formed the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation in September 1953, with the financial support of Thompson Products. The detonation of a thermonuclear bomb by the Soviet Union spurred Trevor Gardner to form the Teapot Committee in October 1953. Chaired byJohn von Neumann, its purpose was to study the development of ballistic missiles, including ICBMs. Ramo and Wooldridge were committee members, and Ramo-Wooldridge Corp. became the lead contractor of the resulting ICBM development effort, reporting to the United States Air Force.
With continued backing from Thompson Products, Ramo-Wooldridge diversified into computers and electronic components, founding Pacific Semiconductors in 1954. They also produced scientific spacecraft such as Pioneer 1. Thompson Products and Ramo-Wooldridge merged in October 1958 to form Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc., unofficially known as "TRW". In February 1959, Jimmy Doolittle became Chairman of the Board of Space Technology Laboratories (STL), the division which continued to support the Air Force ICBM efforts.
Other aerospace companies challenged that TRW’s Air Force advisory role granted it unfair access to its competitors’ technology, and in September 1959 the United States Congress issued a report recommending that STL be converted to a non-profit organization. With nearly half of STL’s employees, The Aerospace Corporation was formed in June 1960, which headed the Atlas conversion for Mercury, Titan conversion for Gemini, and provides ongoing systems engineering support for the United States government. The Air Force continued its ICBM work with TRW.
During fiscal years 1961 through 1963, TRW produced 319,163 M14 rifles for the United States military.
Dean Wooldridge retired in January 1962 to become a professor at California Institute of Technology. Simon Ramo became President of the Bunker-Ramo Corp in January 1964, a company jointly owned by TRW and Martin Marietta for the production of computers and computer monitors. Thompson Ramo Wooldridge officially became TRW Inc. in July 1965. Free of anti-competitive restrictions, except regarding ICBM hardware, STL was renamed TRW Systems Group, also in July 1965. The Credit Data group was formed in 1970 to compete with Dun & Bradstreet, and ESL was acquired in 1978, specializing in technical strategic reconnaissance. TRW Information Systems and Services Division (Credit Data) was spun off in 1996 to form Experian. TRW acquired LucasVarity in 1999, then sold Lucas Diesel Systems to Delphi Automotive, and Lucas Aerospace (then called TRW Aeronautical Systems) to Goodrich Corporation.
The company was #57 on the Fortune 500 list of highest revenue American companies in 1986, and had 122,258 employees in 2000. They had operations in 25 countries.
At approximately 7 p.m. on February 3, 1986 the large TRW plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania burned to the ground in an eight-alarm fire. The plant stored large amounts of dangerous chemicals and people in the local area were urged to stay indoors. The damage was estimated to be greater than $10 million and it was the most serious fire in Harrisburg history at the time.
In February 2002 Northrop Grumman launched a $5.9 billion hostile bid for TRW. A bidding war between Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and General Dynamics ended on July 1, 2002 when Northrop's increased bid of $7.8 billion was accepted. Soon afterwards, the automotive assets of LucasVarity and TRW's own automotive group were sold to The Blackstone Group as TRW Automotive.
Much of TRW's Lyndhurst campus is now home to the lifestyle center Legacy Village.
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, says that "he got his first big break" when only 15, debugging energy-grid control software for TRW. "It was kind of scary," Gates said, realizing the things the program was going to help operate. "This thing needs to work."