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Why Collins?

Original Author - Jenny Panther (Communications) UTC

We all know Rockwell Collins is revered in aerospace. And its relationship with customers is legendary: they love, love  the company, heaping on the supplier awards. There's also the heritage - we keep hearing about the brand's rich history. Radio and avionics buffs may know why, but just between us - umm, why? What does the "Collins" in the up-and-coming Collins Aerospace brand really mean.

A Personality who pushed the boundaries.

Well, for a little insight we'll make a quick stop in Norway. Right now, Norwegian Airlines is honouring Arthur Collins, founder of Rockwell Collins, as a Tailfin Hero, an honour the company bestows on "personalities who have pushed the boundaries."

-  What does this tailfin hero thing mean? Well, 40- to 50-foot portraits of Arthur will be sailing through the skies on the tailfins of the airline's Boeing 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner aircraft throughout 2018. And why Arthur? Because he's legendary for his pioneering contributions to electronics and communication technology

Pushing past the boundaries of his world.

So now we'll head to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In his childhood bedroom at 1725 Grande Avenue, a preteen Arthur was building radios with equipment that included a Quaker Oats tube, thumb tacks and a Model T spark coil. And not just as a casual pastime - he was boy obsessed. A few kids in the area were playing around with crystal sets, but by the time he was a teenager, Arthur had constructed an amateur radio station using purchased components, makeshift materials and his own ingenuity.

At 14 he earned a radio license, and with the magic of radio waves, Arthur pushed past the boundaries of his world,: beyond his bedroom, beyond his town, even beyond Iowa and the United States. During the next year, he made a radio contact that put him on the front pages of newspapers all over the country: Night after night throughout the summer of 1925, he talked by code with the radio operator for Richard Byrd's MacMillan expedition to Greenland. Arthur's signals reached the expedition more clearly and consistently than even the U.S. Navy's! After each broadcast, the ten took messages from the expedition down to the Cedar Rapids telegraph office and relayed the group's scientific findings to the National Geographic Society and officials in Washington.

Fast-forward to 1931, when the Depression hit with full force, and Arthur was a newly-married 23-year-old. It was time to turn this love affair wtih radio into a business. Under the name Collins Radio Company, he and one employee began manufacturing radios in his home basement. It was the firs time ham radio gear emerged on the market as a pre-assembled unit. Precisely engineered with the best parts available, Arthur's radios were head and shoulders above home-built sets, and they sold like hotcakes. Within two years, Collins Radio Company moved out of the basement, leasing space as 2920 First Avenue, where Arthur's genius drove it to continue expanding in size and scope

And that's where we'll leave the story for today's installment!