Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 138,194 pages of information and 223,451 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Racal Electronics Ltd, radio communications and electronic instrumentation maker, of Bracknell.
1950 Racal Ltd was created to provide a consulting service for the planning of radio communications systems. The name was derived from the partners RAymond Brown and George CALder Cunningham (Brown had previously worked at Plessey).
1951 Racal Aerotronics (later Racal Instruments) was established as a subsidiary to build equipment for electronics instrumentation.
The first factory was located at Isleworth, west London.
1954 Needing extra space, the factory was transferred to Bracknell.
Focus was on high frequency radio communications equipment. Racal won a Royal Navy contract to build and supply a variant of the American Collins Model 51-J Radio Receiver but they were not granted a license to build these sets by Collins Inc. Racal had to design and build a radio receiver from scratch. The result was the famous 'RA17' - in production from 1955 to at least 1973 - designed in cooperation with Dr. Trevor Wadley and utilising his Wadley Loop circuit.
1961 Public issue of shares.
1962 New R&D building equipped.
1964 Entered television transmission business.
1965 Pressed for access to US defence equipment market as needed to sell equipment developed to more than the home market in order to recover the R&D investment.
1966 Ernest Harrison took over as chairman.
1966 Poor take-up of rights issue.
1966 Plan to set up own linear micro-circuits plant at Tewkesbury, so that had certainty of supplies and could maintain secrecy about designs.
1967 New factories at Reading, Maidenhead and Woodley.
1968 Improved data transmission over GPO lines using new modem made by Milgo and marketed by Racal. Later that year announcement of formation of Racal-Milgo to manufacture and market Milgo data modems. Also merged production facilities of Racal-Andec with the Mobilcal division of Racal.
1983 Racal competed for one of the original licences to operate a cellular network in the UK, both it and British Telecom were successful. Racal established the Racal Telecom (now Vodafone) subsidiary.
1984 Racal bought Chubb, a security company that manufactured safes and locks.
1988 Vodafone was packaged together with other Racal companies to form Racal Telecommunications Group; 20% of Racal Telecom was floated on the London Stock Exchange. This would lead to the situation where Racal Electronics was valued at less than its shareholding in Racal Telecom.
1990 Announced plans to demerge Racal-Telecom and a new company, Racal Security, by transferring the shares to shareholders; the rest of Racal Electronics would be subject to a management buy-out led by Sir Ernest Harrison (Racal Chairman) which would remain a public company for an "appropriate time"
1991 Demerged Racal Telecom in October, forcing a positive valuation on the rest of Racal (colloquially known in the City as "the rump"). Racal Telecom was renamed Vodafone and later became the largest mobile network in the world and the highest valued company on the FTSE 100. Immediately following the demerger, Williams Holdings launched a takeover bid for Racal Electronics. The bid, valued at £740m, failed.
Other companies in the Group:-
1999 Racal Telecom was acquired by the US telecommunications group Global Crossing. Racal Electronics kept the railway-related network businesses in a separate division and the Field workforce which provide maintenance and installation work