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Allen-Bradley History Pages


World Class Products

1880 - Dodge Manufacturing Company Incorporates, two years after Wallace H. Dodge began the manufacture of wood hardware

1893 - Teenager Lynde Bradley develops his first electric controller. It uses 11 carbon disks sawed from old arc-light electrodes (which are placed in a column between the jaws of a wooden clamp) to operate a toy wood-working lathe, giving it “almost infinite control of the motor speed.”

1901 - Lynde Bradley develops a compression electric current controller using 76 carbon disks, designed to run a crane motor. Prototype completed August 18 – a day before his 23rd birthday. The first functional controller completed October 8.

1902 – First manually operated Allen-Bradley direct current motor starter, whose handle gradually rotated clockwise 180-degrees putting pressure on carbon disks within tubes.

1904 – First crane controller is exhibited at St. Louis World’s Fair. 19-year Harry Bradley & 26-year old brother Lynde ship one of the first commercially manufactured crane controllers – a 3.5 horse power Type A-10 controller – for exhibition.

1904 - John C. Lincoln and Peter Hitchcock found Lincoln Electric Manufacturing, a forerunner of Reliance Electric, in Cleveland, Ohio. First offering is a Type AS DC motor.

1905-08 – Introduces a 1125 watt-rated battery charging rheostat for controlling medical and dental equipment, lamp dimmers and laboratory meter testing.

1908 - Hand operated direct current motor starter – complete with lever – is introduced. Like other products it applied compression rheostat principles.

1910 - Introduces a reversible controller whose brushes, moving over the face plate on the front of the starter, can reverse the motor’s direction.

1912 – Allen-Bradley products utilizing compression resistance have grown beyond Type R crane controllers to include Type L & C DC automatic starters, automatic switches, speed regulators and battery chargers.

1914 -- Dodge Sales and Engineering Company is formed to sell and distribute DODGE Manufacturing Company products.

1917 – Product Line has expanded to include circuit breakers, relays, pushbuttons, hand switches, control panel hardware and other electrical equipment. WWI government contracts boosted sales to unprecedented levels. A-B handles overflow orders from General Electric and Westinghouse when they can’t keep pace with government demand.

1920 – Develops magnetic overload relay using a dashpot, which changed overload timing by raises or lowering a plunger attached to an oil immersed piston.

1920s – Develops carbon disks as small an aspirin table, taking Allen-Bradley controls to the new home appliance industry.

1921 – Radio department sales begin rocketing growth. From 2% of total sales in 1921 to 50% of sales by the mid 1920s.

1922 – Introduces the famous Bradleystat miniature rheostat which offers “perfect filament control” for vacuum tubes used in consumer radios. When the Bradleystat knob is turned, an equalizer spring exerts force on two columns of carbon disks, which vary the resistance – and radio volume – smoothly, without steps.

1925 -- Radio Component Sales account for nearly 50% of company sales. Other radio components including the Bradleydenser, Bradleyleak, Bradleyohm, Bradleyometer, Bradleyswitch and Bradleyadapter satisfy needs of radio consumers. Bradleyunits (molded carbon resistors with fixed R values) become the industry standard.

1925 -- Develops foot switch treadle controls for use in sewing machines made by Singer and other manufacturers. Applying force to the foot pedal smoothly changes resistance, which adjusts the machine’s motor speed.

1926 – Allen-Bradley dashboard rheostats installed in many major automobiles, regulate flow of electricity to the car battery

1926 – Develops thermal overload relay using induction principle. An electromagnet coil with a variable core decreased lag time and offered a high degree of overload protection.

1928 – Develops thermal overload relay using resistance. A fixed hearing element heats the spindle, which is soldered to a spring-loaded ratchet. Excessive heat melts the solder which releases the ratchet and opens the circuit.

1932 – Introduces the 709 Motor Starter, whose design revolutionizes the motor control. The starter’s up and down motion plunger – its only moving part – eliminates bearings, hinges, flexible jumpers, pivots and lubrication. The starter’s double break silver alloy contacts require no cleaning, insuring superior reliability, propelling A-B to the forefront of quality motor control.

1934 – Type J potentiometer introduced. Also the Bulletin 700 solenoid double break control relay. Together the 709 Motor Starter and the 700 relay created a major breakthrough in machine tool controls -- enabling machines to be independently driven, eliminating the need for hazardous v-belts that had run machinery in factories.

1935 – Industry’s first hot-molded fixed composition resistors are launched, revolutionizing the electronics industry. These hot molded, entirely insulated resistors are color-banded to indicate resistance value and are used in electrical and electronic equipment. Sales reach all-time high of nearly $4 million.

1940s – Allen-Bradley products help U.S. Industry automate for the war effort. Allen-Bradley ad copy advises manufacturers “Multiply split-second savings by thousands of machine operations …and you get an extra bomber, several tanks and many more shells…Split seconds count”

1944 - Wartime production peaks. 80% of orders are war-related and center on two broad lines of products: industrial controls, which are crucial for the faster, more automated production required to meet the military’s extensive needs, and electrical components or “radio parts,” which are used in a wide range of military equipment including walkie-talkies, aircraft instruments and radios.

1945 – Allen-Bradley catalog lists 100,000 items.

1948 – A-B’s dominance in fixed resistors for consumer products such as battery powered watches, television sets, etc. means the company is shipping 15 million resistors a month.

1950 - Company launches Ferrites -- which act as permanent magnets – are key components in electric motors, appliances and early television picture tubes. Ferrites are compounds composed of iron oxide, a metallic oxide and ceramic, which are compressed and cured to yield magnetic properties. Enter into agreement with Stackpole Carbon Company, the only manufacturer of ferrite material in the country, to exchange ferrite know-how for Allen-Bradley resistor know-how.

1951 - Opens first ferrite manufacturing facility. In later years, ferrites are used in a variety of inductor, transformer and computer memory core applications. They remain an important part of AB business through the early 1980s.

1955 - Thermo Products Company (TCP) is formed. It later became the nucleus for the Allen-Bradley Drives business.

1956 – Multi-unit control centers -- eventually known as motor control centers -- combine starters, contactors, push button stations and other devices for the complete control of equipment and machines in various industries.

1959 - Harry Bradley Earns Last Patent – At age 74, Harry Bradley, company chairman he earns his last patent – for a capacitor – bringing his lifetime total to 29. Harry’s brother and business partner, Lynde Bradley earned 26 patents in his lifetime.

1967 - Reliance Electric, the future Rockwell Automation brand, purchases DODGE Mechanical Company.

1969 – Allen-Bradley opens world’s largest facility for high current testing, in Milwaukee.

1970 – A-B launches solid state era. Within 15 years, solid-state controls increased from 2% of company sales to 62 percent.

1972 - Enters Drives Business by purchasing TPC Drives, Inc, Cedarburg WI, from Sun Chemical Corporation. At the time, Sun marketed printing ink as well as press drives.

1974 – Introduces the first self-contained solid state photoelectric sensor, the 4000. For five years the 4000 was the most popular sensor in the world. It became the technology model for all future sensors and is still sold today.

1975 – Introduces first A-B Standard drive. The Bulletin 1375.

1979 - Introduces Bulletin 1379 component drive.

1981 – Acquires PDI AC Drives company in California and merges with TCP unit to form a new drives group.

1981 – A-B moves into competitive servo-drive market, introducing the 1387, 1388, 1389, 1390, 1391, 1392 drives.

1983 – Introduces Bulletin 1334 AC Drive whose innovative Pulse Width Modulation (PMW) technology replaces original PTC drives line. A-B drives the NASA Space Shuttle.

1983 - Introduces "Intelligent Panel System" a series of operator interface modules that connect to a PLC via a serial cable, simplifying the assembly process.

1986 – Introduces first general motion devices.

1989 - Introduces PanelView graphic operator interface terminals. They include built in remote I/O communications to a PLC and utilize offline development software for easy design and integration into a factory automation system.

1992 – GMS & Accel drives products introduced

1994 – Introduces Bulletin 1394 programmable drive.

1995 - Parent company Rockwell International adds electric motors and mechanical transmission products to automation offerings with the purchase of Reliance Electric for $1.6 billion.

1996 – In December, Rockwell Automation introduces Encompass, its next-generation 3rd party product referencing program, which assures customers that the products from other companies referenced are current with their needs. The program focuses on quality of relationships, and not quantity of products offered.

1997 – By November Rockwell Automation has 72 companies in the Encompass program. Today Rockwell Automation references 82 companies which produce more than 736 products compatible with Rockwell Automation control systems


Integrated Architecture

1969 – Purchases a 25 percent interest in Information Instruments Inc.

1970 - Introduces first Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and purchases Cleveland-based numerical controls division of Bunker-Ramo Corporation

1971 – Introduces CARDLOK solid-state controller.

1971 – Launches Centerline Motor Control Center products

1972 – First Computer Interface for programmable controllers. Introduces read/write programmable controller and off-line software documentation package

1973 – Forms first Systems Division by merging Numerical and Programmable lines

1974 – First PLC with parallel processing. From this point on, the term PLC became an industry-standard term for programmable logic controllers.

1974 - First CRT-based program panel for PLCs

1976 – Introduces Remote I/O

1978 – Introduces PLC-2® family of controllers
Introduces 1771 I/O product family

1979 – Introduces Data Highway, industry’s first plant floor network, facilitating communication between programmable controllers, computers and other devices via a cable system.

1981 – introduces PLC-3® controller, providing more processing power

1985 – Introduces IBM-compatible programming terminal
Introduces peer to peer communications in a slot based processor

1986 – Links PLCs to personal computers.
Introduces PLC-5® family of highly adaptable controllers

1988 – With DEC, develops Pyramid Integrator, first system to integrate information processing with plant floor control

1989 – Licenses node adapter technology to serve growing customer base

1989 - Introduced PanelView graphic operator interface terminals. They included built in remote I/O communications to a PLC and utilized offline development software for easy design and integration into a factory automation system.

1989 – Launches Pyramid Solutions Program – 1st product reference program for the Allen-Bradley brand. Introduce customers to suppliers whose products interface with A-B platforms through Remote I/O or Data Highway Plus networks. Software products tied to Pyramid Integrator, which run on the DEC VAX 2000 module and the UNIX module for the Pyramid Integrator.

1990 - Pyramid Solutions Program shifts to emphasize companies whose software “adds value" to the A-B Architecture, including the T-60 programming terminal and Pyramid Integrator. These partners include ICOM, which later forms nucleus for Rockwell Software.

1991 – Introduces SLC 500™ small processors

1992 – Develops low-cost networked Block I/O

1992 - First PSP product directory published in December, with products from 47 companies. Some of those same companies are partnering with Rockwell Automation today through the Encompass program. They include: 1993 – Anticipating the Internet’s role in manufacturing, Allen-Bradley introduces products with Ethernet and TCP/IP connectivity.

1994 – Launches DeviceNet open standard network
Introduces Flex™ I/O products
Introduces MicroLogix™ 1000

1995 – Introduces ControlNet high-speed, high-performance network
Ships one-millionth PLC

1994 - Launches DeviceNet, an open device-level network that quickly becomes the de facto standard in North America

1994 - Allen-Bradley merges its software business with ICOM to form Rockwell Software Inc., the world leader in development and support of software for the automation marketplace.

1997 – Launches ControlLogix product


Global Supply & Local Availability

1935 – Company begins global expansion. It has sales offices in 37 United States cities, plus Canada, Spain, England and Mexico.

1969 – Expands manufacturing capabilities beyond North America with the opening of its first manufacturing facility in Europe, Allen-Bradley U.K. Ltd. in Bletchley, (later renamed Milton Keynes), Buckinghamshire, England.

1969 – Establish national network of distributors for electronic components products

1973 – Forms International Group to meet needs of European presence

1973-76 – Opens new plants in 8 states (Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina Mexico) plus England and Germany

1980 - Expands its sales reach to all regions of the world. Launches operations in Japan and the Pacific Rim.

1985 - International markets account for about 20 percent of the sales volume.

2003 - More than 600 sales and support locations in over 80 countries offer integrated “shop floor to top floor” Complete Automation solutions.


Value Added Services & Expertise

1920s – Allen-Bradley and its distributors offer training events to educate customers on proper installation, use and maintenance of products.

1971 – First PLC manufacturer with dedicated training facility

2000 – Forms Global Manufacturing Solutions group


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