Rockwell International was the ultimate incarnation of a series of
companies under the sphere of influence of Willard Rockwell, who had made
his fortune after the invention and successful launch of a new bearing
system for truck axles in 1919.
Primary among the constituents of the final company were the Rockwell
Spring and Axle Company (itself a merger of a number of automotive
suppliers), which formed into Rockwell-Standard, then merged with North
American Aviation to form North American Rockwell in 1967. They then
purchased or merged with Miehle-Goss-Dexter, the largest supplier of
printing presses, and Collins Radio. Finally they merged with Rockwell
Manufacturing, run by Willard Rockwell Jr., and formed Rockwell
International in 1973.
In this time the various companies in the empire list a huge number of
firsts. North American was responsible for the famous WWII P-51 Mustang
fighter and Korean War-era F-86 Sabre, as well as the Apollo spacecraft.
Once under the Rockwell banner they continued on to build the B-1 Lancer
bomber, the Space Shuttle, (started while they were still North American)
and most of the Navstar Global Positioning System satellites. It also took
over and manufactured the light business aircraft previously known as Aero
Commanders, then introduced their own new design as the Rockwell Commander
112 and 114.
Collins Radios were fitted to 80% of the free world's airliners. They
designed and built the radios that communicated the Apollo moon landings
and the high frequency radio network that allows worldwide communication
with US military aircraft. Rockwell designed and built the third stage of
the Minuteman Intercontinental ballistic missile, (ICBM) and the Inertial
Gyros that provided for their navigation. They also built inertial
navigation systems for the Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines.
Rockwell's manufacturing was likewise strong and built most of the heavy
duty truck axles in the U.S.
With the death of Willard Rockwell in 1978 and the stepping down of
Willard Rockwell Jr. in 1979, the company started a long series of
sell-offs. The company sold the most of its defence and all of its space
business to Boeing including its rocket engine testing facilities known as
Rocketdyne, located northwest of Los Angeles, California, in the Santa
Susana Mountain Range and Simi hills during December, 1996. The company
began to spin off its semiconductor manufacturing as Conexant, (CNXT),
additionally spinning-off the automotive and truck business as Meritor,
which then merged with Arvin Industries to form Arvin Meritor (ARM); the
remainder of the company finally split into two totally separate
companies: Rockwell Collins, (COL), and Rockwell Automation, (ROK). As
such, Rockwell International no longer exists.