L3 Cincinnati Electronics traces its roots back to the early 1920s and the Crosley Radio Corporation. Though for many it was just a name on an old wooden radio, at one time the Crosley Radio Corporation of Cincinnati was one of the giants of American radio production.
The company's story begins in early 1921 when Powel Crosley, Jr. (1886 - 1961), a successful maker of automobile accessories sold by mail, wanted to purchase a radio for his small son, Powel III. The radio industry was still in its infancy and consequently prices remained high. Shocked at the cost, Crosley learned enough about radio construction and operation to build his son a rudimentary receiver, which caused him to consider radio manufacture as a business venture.
As the company grew, Powel Crosley began to diversify. He'd already expanded into broadcasting with the construction of radio station WLW in 1922. Now, his company added major appliances such as refrigerators and electric ranges to the product line.
Applying what he'd learned as a radio manufacturer, Crosley introduced a low-cost compact automobile in 1939. The Crosley automobile sold for what was then an affordable $325, direct from the factory. It was designed to be economical and economical it was, getting over 30 miles per gallon. Though the automobile was never a best-seller like the company's radios, many examples have survived and are now prized collectibles.
During WWII, Crosley, like most radio manufacturers, converted to wartime production. Along with the usual receiver and transmitter contracts, the company produced for the U.S. Navy, a proximity fuse used in shells designed to attack aircraft. After the war, the Crosley Radio Corporation resumed production of domestic radios and appliances.
Powel Crosley sold the company to the Aviation Corporation (AVCO) in 1946, and it became the Crosley Division of AVCO. Crosley remained a major manufacturer of radios, televisions and appliances throughout the 1950s and well into the early 1960s. As time went on, the company's fortunes declined somewhat and AVCO turned its interests toward aviation and industrial electronics, and the Crosley brand all but disappeared from dealer shelves.
In 1973, the Evendale Operation of AVCO Electronics Division was purchased by a group of key AVCO executives. The new company became known as Cincinnati Electronics Corporation and manufactured a broad range of sophisticated electronic equipment for communications and space, infrared and radar and electronic warfare, among others.
Since the creation of the Cincinnati Electronics Corporation in 1973, the company has been acquired by a handful of companies including GEC Marconi (1981), BAE Systems (1999), CMC Electronics (2001) and L-3 (2004).