Bendix Corporation

Bendix Corporation

The Bendix Corporation was an American manufacturing and engineering company which during various times in its 60 year existence made brake systems, aeronautical hydraulics, avionics, radios, televisions and computers, and which licensed its name for use on home washing machines.


Bendix was founded in 1924 in South Bend, Indiana, United States, by the inventor Vincent Bendix. At first it manufactured brake systems for cars and trucks, supplying General Motors with braking systems for its production lines for several decades. In 1929 Vincent Bendix branched out into aeronautics and renamed the company "Bendix Aviation" to reflect the new product lines. Bendix supplied aircraft manufacturers with all types of hydraulic systems, for braking and flap activation, and introduced new devices such as a pressure carburetor which dominated the market during World War II. It also made a wide variety of electrical and electronic instruments for aircraft.

Although popularly connected to washing machines, the Bendix Corporation itself never actually manufactured that home appliance. In 1936 the company licensed its name to Bendix Home Appliances, another South Bend company, for a 25% stake in the company. [ [ untitled ] ] Bendix Home Appliances, founded by Judson Sayre, was later sold to Avco Manufacturing Corporation. [ [ JUDSON S. SAYRE - New York Times ] ]

The Bendix Corporation sponsored the famous Bendix continental air race which started in 1931, and is known for the Bendix Trophy. The competition was a transcontinental U.S. point-to-point race meant to encourage the development of durable, efficient aircraft for commercial aviation, but civilians were barred from the race in 1950. The last race took place in 1962.

During World War II Bendix made just about every ancillary instrument or equipment for military aircraft. The Bendix radio division was born in 1937, to make radio transmitter/receivers for aircraft and other types of avionics (aviation electronics). During the war Bendix manufactured about three quarters of all avionics in American aircraft. During and after the war Bendix made radar equipment of all kinds.

Bendix started making domestic radios and phonographs for the retail market after the war as an outgrowth of its production of aircraft radios. Bendix also built television sets from 1950 to 1959. Production of radios for the retail trade stopped in the mid fifties, but in 1948 Bendix started to sell car radios directly to Ford and other auto manufacturers. This market rapidly grew during the 1950s, but shrank just as fast in the 1960s when Ford, GM and Chrysler started producing their own radios.

Since the 1950s Bendix and its successors have managed Department of Energy (DOE) facilities in Kansas City, Missouri and Albuquerque, New Mexico which procured non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons, and during the 1960s the company made ground and airborne telecommunications systems for NASA, including the ST-124-M3 inertial platform used in the Saturn V Instrument Unit. It also developed the first automobile fuel injection systems in the United States.

In 1956 the computer division of Bendix Aviation introduced the Bendix G-15, a mini computer which was the size of two tall filing cabinets. The company sold about 400 of these at prices starting at below US$50,000. The Bendix computer division was taken over in 1963 by Control Data Corporation, which continued to manufacture the G-15 for a few years. The chief designer of the G-15 was Harry Huskey, who had worked with Alan Turing on the ACE in the United Kingdom and on the SWAC in the 1950s. Huskey created most of the design while working as a professor at Berkeley, and other universities, and also as a consultant.

In the decades between 1970 and 1990, Bendix went through a series of mergers, sales and changes with partners or buyers including Raytheon, Allied Signal and others. This diluted its corporate identity, though for some years these companies used the Bendix brand for some of their products, such as aircraft flight control systems.

In 1982 Bendix launched a hostile takeover bid of Martin Marietta. Bendix bought the majority of Martin Marietta shares and in effect owned the company. However, Martin Marietta's management used the short time between ownership and control to sell non-core businesses and launch its own hostile takeover of Bendix – the Pac-Man Defense. Industrial conglomerate United Technologies joined the fray, supporting Martin Marietta in their counter-takeover bid. In the end, Bendix was rescued by the Allied Corporation, acting as a white knight. Bendix was acquired by Allied in 1983 for US$85 per share. The Allied Corporation, later named AlliedSignal, bought Honeywell and adopted the Honeywell name, and Bendix became a Honeywell brand, including the Bendix/King brand of avionics which includes completely digital integrated glass cockpits. Honeywell's commercial vehicles division also has a Bendix line of electronics and other vacuum or hydraulic subsystems.

In popular culture

Bendix was mentioned in a corporate advertisement created by electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott entitled "The Tomorrow People." The track can be found on the Raymond Scott compilation album "Manhattan Research, Inc." (2000), and is also sampled by J Dilla on the "Donuts" album.

See also

*Mary Cunningham



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Look at other dictionaries:

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