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Facts about the Hallicrafters Founder and Company

William (Bill) J. Halligan, founder of Hallicrafters, was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1899.  He got his first ham license as a teenager.  Even at that age he considered himself a radio experimenter and bulit an early spark-gap transmitter.  Bill's first job, at age 16, was as a wireless operator on excursion ships between Boston and other coastal cities.   When World War I began, he put his skills to good use by serving his country as a wireless radio operator on the battleship Illinois.  After the war was over he attended engineering school at Tufts College and West Point, but left when he married in 1922.  He took a job as a newspaper reporter, and then left journalism in 1924 to sell radio parts.  In 1928 he decided to start his own company, and moved to Chicago, Illinois.  This salesman had ideas for improving the short-wave radios he had been selling. It was a brave venture, with almost no capital, manufacturing license problems and then the depression, but in 1933 Bill founded the Hallicrafters company that made him a legend. 

Hallicrafters built handcrafted receivers with state-of-the-art features at an affordable price.  By 1938, Hallicrafters was considered one of the "Big Three" manufacturers of amateur receivers (Hallicrafters, National and Hammarlund) and was selling not only in the U.S. but 89 other countries.  He had 23 different models of transceivers and was ready to start producing transmitters, beginning with the HT-1.  Instead of putting a lot into expensive cabinets, Halligan believed in providing every nickel's worth into the performance of the chassis and the latest in circuit design.  His greatest salesmen were those who used his equipment and praised it to others over the air.

When World War II began, there was a tremendous shortage of military radio equipment.  Hallicrafters geared up for wartime production, and perhaps the best known new design is the HT-4 (BC-610) which was used extensively during the war.  After the war, focus was again on consumer electronics, including radio phonographs, AM/FM receivers, clock radios and televisions. 

The 1950s were the most successful years for the company.  In 1952 Hallicrafters' main plant in Chicago housed general offices and the factory and was a block long.  In addition to the main plant was a 3-story building of 72,000 square feet two blocks away, a 1-story coil plant of 12,000 square feet on Chicago's north side, and 150,000 square feet of production and storage space in three other buildings within a five-mail radius of the main plant. The company employed 2,500 people.  Many of the radio products became classics, e.g. the HT-32 and the SX 101.  Much of this equipment is still used today and collected by nostalgia buffs.

In 1966 Northrop Corporation bought Hallicrafters and moved the company to a new plant in Rolling Madows, Illinois. The company's main function was to produce para-military equipment and electronic countermeasures systems. Hallicrafters produced a few ham radios through 1972 and a few accessories through 1974.

From 1933 until the company was sold to Northrop, Bill Halligan, W9AC, always supported the ham radio hobby. He died on July 14th, 1992 at the age of 93.

The history information came from the following sources:

1) History of Hallicrafters from Chuck Dachis http://ww1.photomicrographics.com/webpages2/pmi/dd1/history.htm

2) Newsline Radio - CBBS Edition #56 - posted 9/20/92 http://www.arnewsline.org/newsline_archives/Cbbs056.txt

3) Hallicrafters http://www.aa9tt.com/Hallicrafters.html

4) Hallicrafters Founder Dead at Age 93 (W5YI Report) http://www.amfone.net/AMPX/101.htm

5) ARRL 1952 The Radio Amateur's Handbook, 29th Edition

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