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Collins Company History Page


Arthur A. Collins

Founder of the Collins Radio Company

Arthur A. Collins (1909-1987) was an American entrepreneur, who founded Collins Radio Co., which is now Rockwell Collins, Inc.

Art Collins' father owned several thousand acres of farmland. After graduating from Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Collins attended several colleges although he never received a degree. Later he started a very successful radio business. Collins began to take his business into more research and development while his father, M. H. Collins, managed the financial end of his son's business until his death.

After his father died, Art Collins began to take the company into less profitable ventures, resulting in near-bankruptcy. Collins looked for buyers, and finally found the Rockwell family, who stepped in to save the company. The Rockwells first purchased stock in the company and then finally pressured the stockholders to exclude Collins out of the management end of the business. While still part of the Rockwell-Collins company, Collins started a new, more experimental, and smaller-scale business in Dallas, Texas.

The historic timeline of The Collins Radio Company

1931: Arthur Collins opens Collins Radio Company in the basement of his home with one employee.

1933: Incorporation as Collins Radio Company (September 25) under the laws of Delaware; the Company moves to a sub-floor in the Metropolitan Building at 2920 First Avenue, Cedar Rapids, telephone 2-0016,

(Collins Signal, February 1933)

1934: The Byrd Antarctic Expedition II sails with complete Collins short wave broadcasting station aboard,

(Collins Signal, January 1934)

1935: The factory portion of Collins moves to 7th and First Avenue, Cedar Rapids.

1936: The Radio Corporation of American (RCA) accuses Collins Radio of patent infringement in the use of oscillator tubes in Collins transmitters, (Cedar Rapids Gazette article, 12 December 1965)

1937: The factory moves back to 2920 First Avenue, Cedar Rapids.

1938: Patent licenses were secured from RCA and AT&T on favorable terms,

(Company speech given by Art Collins to the Underwriters’ Representatives, 1 November 1944)

1940: The first section of what is now called Main Plant was built at 855 - 35th Street, Cedar Rapids,

(Collins Column, May 1946, Issue XXXVIII)

1942~: Collins Employees Credit Union established

Note: Until 1942, no women had been employed in the factory, (Collins Column, May 1946, Issue XXXVIII)

1943: Factory employees accept the American Federation of Labor as their bargaining unit.

1946: Collins built and began production in a site at Burbank, California,

("The Collins Story" by Arlo C. Goodyear, 14 October 1954)

1950: Collins built a production site in Dallas, Texas, ("The Collins Story" by Arlo C. Goodyear, 14 October 1954

1953: Collins built the C Avenue complex "in the shadow of the WMT-TV tower",

("The Collins Story" by Arlo C. Goodyear, 14 October 1954).

The building cost $2 million on 52 acres of land,

("Collins and the Electronic Beanstalk" article by Nancy Gibbons Zook, 1956)

1955: Acquired Communications Accessories Company in Kansas City, Missouri,

("Collins and the Electronic Beanstalk" article by Nancy Gibbons Zook, 1956)

1961: Collins’ Western Division moves from Burbank to Newport Beach, California,

("Collins History is Record of ’Firsts’", Orange County Industrial News, 1961)

1968: Collins Radio had one of the wildest swinging stocks; in 1958 it sold under $11, in 1960 it was $72; in 1964 it was back to $15; and in 1968 it sold over $100, ("Who Needs A Degree" Forbes, January 1968)

1969: Electronic Data System (EDS); at the time a small Texas company headed by Ross Perot, tendered an offer to buy 51% of Collins in an attempt to take over Collins Radio; by May, EDS withdraws its offer; discussions with Honeywell emerged, which later collapsed.

1971: Collins Radio Company merges with Rockwell International Corp.; After the merger, Arthur serves on the Board of Directors.

1972: Robert C. Wilson named President & Chief Executive Officer of Collins Radio Company; Art Collins leaves Collins Radio to form Arthur A. Collins Consulting, Inc.

1982: Art Collins receives the Pioneer Award from the Aerospace & Electronics Systems Society of the IEEE

1996: Consolidation of Collins Commercial Avionics (CCA), Collins Avionics and Communications Division (CACD), and the Dallas, Texas-based Communication Systems Division (CSD) into one organization,

(January 1997 Millennium article)

1997: Collins buys Hughes-Avicom and enters the in-flight entertainment market.

1998: Collins sells Railroad Electronics to WABCO, (August 1998 press release)

1999-2000: Company-wide integration of SAP, (April 1998 Millennium article)

2000: Collins buys Kaiser Aerospace and Electronics, (October 2000 press


2001: Rockwell International Corp. spins-off Rockwell Collins, Inc. as independent, public traded, company

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