The Bendix Corporation
1960 - Wilmington
Issued in Amsterdam
Certificate for 10 common shares
The Bendix Corporation was an American manufacturing and engineering company which during various times in its 60 year existence (1924–1983) made automotive brake shoes and systems, aircraft brakes, aeronautical hydraulics and electric power systems, avionics, aircraft and automobile fuel control systems, radios, televisions and computers. It also was well known for the name Bendix as used on home clothes washing machines, but never actually made these common home appliances.
Founder and inventor Vincent Bendix initially began his corporation in a hotel room in Chicago in 1914 with an agreement with the struggling bicycle brake manufacturing firm, Eclipse Machine Company of Elmira, New York. Bendix granted permission to his invention which was described as "a New York device for the starting of explosive motors." This company made a low cost triple thread screw which could be used in the manufacture of other drive parts. By using this screw with the Eclipse Machine Company, Bendix had a good foundation for his future business plans.
General Motors Corp. purchased a 24 percent interest in Bendix in 1924, not to operate Bendix but to maintain a direct and continuing contact with developments in aviation, as the engineering techniques of the auto and aircraft were still quite similar then. Bendix in the 1920s owned and controlled many important patents for devices applicable to the auto industry, for example, brakes, carburetors, and starting drives for engines. It acquired Bragg-Kliesrath brakes in the late 1920s. In 1942 Ernest Breech became president of Bendix coming over from General Motors Corp., and after performing brilliantly for Bendix by introducing GM management philosophies he then attracted the attention of Henry Ford 2 who induced him over Ford Motor Corp. where he finished his illustrious career. By 1940 Bendix had sales running around 40 million dollars and in 1948 General Motors sold its interest in Bendix as it wanted to focus more on its rapidly expanding automotive operations. Bendix was formally founded in 1924 in South Bend, Indiana, United States. At first it manufactured brake systems for cars and trucks, supplying General Motors and other automobile manufacturers. Bendix manufactured both hydraulic brake systems and a vacuum booster TreadleVac for its production lines for decades. In 1924 Vincent Bendix had acquired the rights to Frenchman Henri Perrot's patents for drum and shoe design.[a]
In 1958, Bendix introduced "Electro-jection", a true multipoint electronic fuel injection system on several models of automobiles built by Chrysler Corporation.
In the 1960s, Bendix automotive brakes blossomed with the introduction of fixed-caliper disc brakes and the "Duo-Servo" system (which became, virtually, a defacto world standard for drum brakes). During the 1960s, (I think it was earlier as I had a Bendix New Departure coaster brake on my bicycle in 1944 and a Bendix 2-speed in 46.) Bendix also dabbled in bicycle hardware, producing a reliable, totally self-contained, 2-speed "Kick-Back" planetary rear axle with coaster braking.
Starting in the 1950s or before, Bendix Pacific designed, tested, and manufactured hydraulic components and systems; mostly for the military. In the same facility avionics and other electronic hardware was designed, manufactured, and documented in technical manuals. Much of this operation was relocated to a new facility in Sylmar, CA where they had a large and deep indoor pool for testing sonar transponders and systems. Telemetry components for the RIM-8 Talos surface-to-air missile included transmitters and oscillators in various frequency bands; the missile itself was designed and built by Bendix. They built and installed the telemetry system in all the ground stations for the first manned space flights. For this program they developed the first cardio tachometer and respiration rate monitor system so that a ground-based physician could observe an astronaut's vital signs. MK46 torpedo electronics also came from this facility. Other diverse products included radar detectors in aircraft that identified ground missile tracking and ground missile launch at the aircraft. In the 1960s they produced an anti-lock brake system for military aircraft using established technology similar to the earlier Maxaret. The technology is similar to the notched wheel and reluctor now used in cars.
Bendix Scintilla manufactured MIL SPEC electrical connectors of many styles. Criteria was met for non-hostile environments and hostile environments that provided seals against liquids and gasses.
In 1971, Bendix introduced the world's first true computerized ABS (anti-lock) system on Chrysler's 1971 Imperial. Production continued for several years. Under its present ownership by Honeywell, Bendix continues to manufacture automotive brakes and industrial brakes for a wide variety of industries.
Many Bendix automotive, truck and industrial brakes sold in the United States were used up through and as late as 1987. Bendix's current parent, Honeywell, continues to deal with numerous lawsuits brought as a result of asbestos-containing Bendix brand brakes.
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.
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. 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.
In the 1950s Bendix and its successors managed Department of Energy (DOE) facilities in Kansas City, Missouri and Albuquerque, New Mexico. These facilities procured non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons.
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.
During the 1960s the company made ground and airborne telecommunications systems for NASA. It also built the ST-124-M3 inertial platform used in the Saturn V Instrument Unit which was built by the Navigation and Control Division in Teterboro, NJ. It also developed the first automobile fuel injection system in the United States.
In January 1963, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) released a report stating that the "most likely abnormality" to have caused the crash of American Airlines Flight 1, On March 1, 1962, was a short circuit caused by wires in the automatic piloting system that had been damaged in the manufacturing process. CAB inspectors had inspected units at a Teterboro, New Jersey, Bendix Corporation plant and discovered workers using tweezers to bind up bundles of wires, thereby damaging them. The Bendix Corporation issued denials, stating that the units underwent 61 inspections during manufacturing, in addition to inspections during installation and maintenance work, and insisted that had the insulation on the wires been breached at some point, it would have surely been detected and the unit replaced
In 1966 NASA selected Bendix Aerospace Systems Division in Ann Arbor, Michigan to design, manufacture, test, and provide operational support for packages of the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) to fly on the Apollo Program.
Although popularly connected to washing machines, the Bendix Corporation itself never actually manufactured them. In 1936, the company licensed its name to Bendix Home Appliances, another South Bend company, for a 25% stake in the company. Bendix Home Appliances, founded by Judson Sayre, was later sold to Avco Manufacturing Corporation.
Bendix first manufactured domestic radios and phonographs for the retail market after the war as an outgrowth of its production of aircraft radios. In 1948 Bendix started to sell car radios directly to Ford and other auto manufacturers as well. From 1950 to 1959, Bendix also made television sets briefly. Production of radios for the retail trade grew quickly in the 1950s, but stopped just as quickly in the 1960s when Ford, GM and Chrysler started producing their own radios.
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, later bought Honeywell and adopted the Honeywell name, and Bendix became a Honeywell brand, including the Bendix/King brand of avionics. Honeywell's commercial vehicles division also has a Bendix line of electronics and other vacuum or hydraulic subsystems.
In 2002 Knorr-Bremse took over from Honeywell International Inc., USA its share of joint ventures in Europe, Brazil and the USA. Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems becomes a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse AG. The Knorr-Bremse Group achieves sales of EUR 2.1 billion for the first time.