Radio Corporation of America

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Radio Corporation of America

legal form Inc.
founding 1919
resolution 1986
Reason for dissolution Takeover by GE
Seat Rockefeller Center , New York
management Thornton F. Bradshaw

The Radio Corporation of America ( RCA ) was an American company that was founded in 1919 as a public company by American electronics manufacturers. The company was based in Rockefeller Center in New York and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange .

The RCA included the car rental company The Hertz Corporation , the financial institution CIT Group , the book publisher Random House , several record labels with RCA Records , the television station NBC , the frozen food manufacturer Banquet Foods , the carpet manufacturer Coronet and the gift and greeting card manufacturer Gibson .

The company was founded in 1986 by General Electric for 6.28 billion US dollars accepted.

Today RCA acts as a trademark for various companies. The RCA Trademark Management manages the trademarks. RCA is used by VOXX International , Technicolor SA and Sony Music Entertainment (through the purchase of BMG ) for some of their products.


During the First World War , the patents of the largest companies in the USA that dealt with the still young radio technology were merged with the aim of being able to produce more effectively for the military . At that time, most of the wireless communications equipment and accessories in the United States were manufactured for military use.

The foundation was formed by the American Marconi company founded by Guglielmo Marconi of Italian origin and the collaboration between General Electric , Westinghouse Electric Corporation and United Fruit Company .

After World War I, many US citizens viewed radio as a natural monopoly . The United States Navy tried to win the monopoly, but failed.

Owen D. Young was able to convince the American Congress to let General Electric and American Telephone & Telegraph form an international radio monopoly.

In 1923 and 1924, the station was the subject of an anti-trust investigation by the American Congress and the Federal Trade Commission .

Development into a large corporation

The company was founded in 1919 as a majority-owned corporation by General Electric, with David Sarnoff as its managing director . The rules of procedure required the company to be largely US-owned. The RCA took over the assets of American Marconi and was responsible for marketing GE and Westinghouse's radio accessories. The RCA also acquired United Fruit and Westinghouse's patents in exchange for property rights.

By 1926, the RCA was in control of the commercial radio market. RCA bought the radio stations WEAF and WCAP from AT&T and merged them with its own broadcasting stations, the WJZ from New York and the station WRC from Washington, DC to form the new network National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

In 1929 the company bought the Victor Talking Machine Company , the largest record company in the world at the time, which, in addition to Victrola records, also produced playback devices. RCA was now called RCA-Victor . With Victor, RCA owned the rights to one of the most famous trademarks on the American continent at the time, the dog Nipper . The slogan was His Masters Voice and showed Nipper listening to the same voice in front of a gramophone loudspeaker.

The European and Commonwealth rights to the logo were bought from Victor's independent UK partner His Master's Voice , now part of the EMI Group . RCA-Victor produced many radiophonographs. The company also invented new film dubbing techniques.

In 1931 the company moved into the high-rise building at 570 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan as its headquarters.

In 1939, RCA introduced a 441-line television system at the New York World's Fair . With the standardization of the American television system to 525 lines and 30 frames per second by the National Television Systems Committee (NTSC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the first transmission of commercial television began in the USA on July 1, 1941 .

The Second World War slowed down the development of television in the United States, but after the war RCA began almost immediately back televisions for sale.

The monopoly position was increasingly viewed as hostile to the market and consumers and ultimately led to the breakup of the two NBC radio networks by the FCC. The US Supreme Court upheld the decision. On October 12, 1943, the NBC Blue Network was sold to candy magnate Edward John Noble ( Life Savers ) for $ 8 million . NBC Blue was renamed The Blue Network and became the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in 1946 . The NBC Red radio network kept the name NBC and remained the property of the RCA.

In 1949, RCA-Victor developed the first 45-rpm record and released it in response to the CBS / Columbia 33⅓ LP record .

RCA video editing machine from the 1960s

The RCA color television system was declared the standard for US color television by the NTSC in 1953. RCA cameras and television production equipment became the standard for many affiliates of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, and NBC). Surprisingly, David Sarnoff said in 1955 that television would never become an entertainment medium.

Today's Whirlpool Corporation took over the air conditioning and kitchen appliance production from RCA in 1955 and produced the products under the name RCA-Whirlpool until the mid-1960s .

The RCA Studio II game console was sold from 1977 to 1979 .

In 1980, Random House , which was taken over in 1967, was sold to Advance Publications .

CIT Group , a financial institution acquired in 1980 , was sold to Manufacturers Hanover Corporation for $ 1.5 billion in 1984 . Also in 1984, the car rental company The Hertz Corporation, bought in 1967, was sold to United Airlines for $ 587 million .

The development laboratories of the Sarnoff Corporation , founded in 1942 as an independent unit by RCA and renamed the David Sarnoff Research Center in 1951, were sold by General Electric to SRI International in 1987 with a dowry of research contracts worth $ 250 million.

The descendants of the large corporation

In many ways, the story of the RCA is the story of David Sarnoff, his drive and business acumen made the RCA one of the largest corporations in the world in its heyday. At the age of 79, David Sarnoff resigned in 1970 and his son Robert became his successor. David Sarnoff died in 1971; the success of the RCA began to wane.

During the 1970s, the RCA became more and more inflexible. Despite the fact that they maintained a high technical standard in areas such as broadcasting equipment and satellite communication accessories, the situation of other branches of business such as B. the NBC network. Some attempts at diversification turned out to be a flop, for example the innovative but technologically outdated video cassette system SelectaVision .

In 1986 the company was bought and split up by its former majority owner General Electric. GE kept what was originally the core of the RCA giant, in particular the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), which General Electric sold to Comcast in 2009 and 2013 .

The record business RCA Records was sold to the German media group Bertelsmann , which shortly afterwards formed the Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). In 2004 Bertelsmann and Sony merged their music divisions (BMG and Sony Music) to form Sony BMG Music Entertainment . The company sells CDs worldwide under RCA-created labels. In 2008, Sony took over the shares from Bertelsmann, i.e. the entire BMG with its sublabels. The company then renamed Sony Music thus holds the license to use the RCA trademark for an unlimited period and today has artists such as the Foo Fighters and Avril Lavigne under contract.

The patents and rights for consumer electronics products under the brands RCA (including the rights for Nipper in the Americas) and GE were sold to Thomson Consumer Electronics of France , one of the world's largest manufacturers of television and radio equipment. The RCA brand was thereafter Thomson's most important trademark in North and South America.

At the beginning of 2007 VOXX International bought the rights to the trademark and has been selling products under this label ever since. Thanks to a cooperation between Thomson and TCL in 2009, TCL products were also marketed under the RCA label.


Cinch plug

The cinch plug is a standardized connector for audio and electronic cables. The US-American (original) names are u. a. RCA connector or phono connector . It was developed by RCA in the 1940s and is now one of the most widely used connectors in entertainment electronics worldwide .

The company was the first commercial manufacturer of the theremin in 1929. After a series of 500 units was stopped production, presumably because the demand during the global economic crisis in 1929 and the following in the US Great Depression was low.

The company has been making very popular ribbon microphones for recording studios and radio stations since the 1930s . The RCA 77 or the RC 74 are still popular with sound engineers today. There are elaborate replicas of both microphones.

See also

Web links

Commons : RCA  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c L.J. Davis: Did RCA Have To Be Sold? In: The New York Times (Ed.): Harper's Magazine . September 20, 1987 ( online [accessed October 14, 2012]).
  2. Geraldine manufacturer: The GE-RCA merger forging a megadeal . In: The New York Times . December 13, 1985 ( online [accessed October 14, 2012]).
  3. Eric N. Berg: GE says merger may take a year . Ed .: The New York Times. December 13, 1985 ( online [accessed October 14, 2012]).
  4. ^ RCA Trademark Management., accessed July 29, 2012 .
  5. ^ Finds a Monopoly in Radio Industry . Trade Board Calls Radio Corporation of America "The Dominant Factor". In: The New York Times . December 3, 1923 ( Online [accessed October 16, 2012] Free access only to the abstract of the article).
  6. ^ Radio Corporation Opens Its Records. Gene. Harbord Says It Is An American Company Acting in the Public Interest. (PDF; 123kB) In: The New York Times. January 29, 1924. Retrieved October 16, 2012 .
  7. ^ Whirlpool Corporation History . FundingUniverse , accessed December 23, 2018 .
  8. ^ Random House Inc. History . FundingUniverse , accessed December 23, 2018 .
  9. ^ The Hertz Corporation History . FundingUniverse , accessed December 23, 2018 .
  10. ^ Robert J. Cole: United Airlines set to buy Hertz from RCA in 587 million deal . Ed .: The New York Times. June 18, 1985 ( online [accessed October 14, 2012]).
  11. ^ Sarnoff Corporation History . FundingUniverse , accessed December 23, 2018 .
  12. ^ Audiovox to Acquire Thomson's Consumer Electronics Accessory Business Including the Rights to the RCA Brand for Consumer Electronics Accessories., December 21, 2006, accessed July 29, 2012 .
  13. China Turns Into TV Powerhouse., February 11, 2009, accessed July 29, 2012 .