This morning, I was piling through some old notes from a lecture I attended with Professor Miklos Sarvary at INSEAD, and this led me to plunge into the story of RCA whose 70-year tale is very rich. There is a great timeline available on NationMaster. RCA is a company that is inextricably linked with the history of the radio, television and 20th century music. On top of that, for a while (1960s), RCA was on the computer bandwagon as well… but that adventure did not work out. That said, RCA was clearly a pioneer, whose R&D and products pushed us along to the wireless world in which we live today.
Internet ethnologists are probably not inclined to go back so far in time, but RCA clearly had the knack of developing and taking over the different media with an early-stated goal of providing worldwide wireless communication. I was particularly struck by the advertisement that RCA ran back in its earliest days. From 1920-1927, the Radio Corporation of America used the communication below, potentially a slight case of hubris:
What ought to strike you is the logo in the middle which has an uncanny message: Worldwide Wireless.
For such a visionary company, started and ended by General Electric, RCA must have been an exciting place at which to work through till the 1960s. When they branched out into irrelevant areas with the acquisition of Hertz (car rental), Coronet carpets and Banquet (foods), you knew that they had lost the [internet] plot. A case of extensions that — at least viewed now — have little good justification. Buying Random House was a more interesting fit, that said, given the media connection. Anyway, I must thank Professor Sarvary for getting me interested in the RCA story, so clearly a necessary precursor to the worldwide web on which we all surf.