Before it was a international telecommunications giant, Motorola was the name of a car radio. The moniker was an amalgam of sorts, the "motor" pulled from "motorcar" paired up with "-ola," to signify sound. The Motorola car radio was released by the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation in 1930, two years after the company's founding in Chicago, kicking things off with a battery eliminator, aimed at letting battery-powered home radios run off of household electricity. The company was launched by two brothers, Joseph and Paul Galvin, the latter of whom reportedly bestowed the car radio with its soon-to-be-famous name.
The same year it was released, the Motorola became Galvin's first internationally sold product -- albeit on a fairly small scale, moving two units in Mexico City. Not an epic feat by any stretch, sure, but companies rarely become multinational presences overnight. In 1947, the company dropped the name of its founders in favor of a punchier moniker borrowed from its early car stereo -- a name that meant "sound in motion," according to the company line. A fitting switch, in light of the Galvins' embrace of all things radio, including models for the home, police cruisers and two-way units like the Handie-Talkie, which would be put to use on the battlefields of WWII. The company wouldn't adopt the now familiar "M" Motorola logo for nearly another decade, favoring a decidedly less iconic, cursive font for the time being.
Motorola also provided the radio technology for Apollo 11's moon landing.
Motorola even flirted with an early version of the car phone in 1946, developing the Car Radiotelephone for Illinois Bell. Newly rechristened, the company found more success with 1947's Golden View Television, a seven-inch set that sold at a reasonable $190. In the '60s, the company would go cordless with the 19-inch Astronaut TV, offer up color tubes and cap off the decade with another large leap -- providing radio technology for Apollo 11's moon landing.
Birth of the Cellphone