Our guests this #WorkerWednesday are the women of the Sperry Gyroscope Company, seen here in a photograph taken on July 18, 1944. Text associated with this image associates the work being done in this photograph with the synchronized motor assembly for "Ford Instrument #4".
This image is part of Hagley Library's collection of Sperry Gyroscope Company photographs and films (Accession 1986.273). The Sperry Gyroscope Company was founded by Elmer A. Sperry (1860-1930) in 1910 to manufacture a gyro-compass for all-metal ships. By the mid-20th, century, however, the company grew into a pioneering research and development industrial firm.
The company's growth was due in part to innovations like a 1912 automatic airplane stabilization, or autopilot) system as well as the company's work in World War I developing products to meet military needs, such as naval gunfire control systems. navigational instruments, and
searchlights. The growth of the firm during World War I led the company to leave its original headquarters, two floors of a factory in Brooklyn, to a new eleven-story corporate facility by the Manhattan Bridge Plaza in 1916.
By the time this photograph was taken, Elmer Sperry had retired as president of the company (1926) and ownership of the firm had been sold to sold the firm to North American Aviation. As World War II approached, the company had became more heavily involved in electronic systems research and development. Wartime military contracts for gun-sights. computer-controlled bomb sights, airborne radar systems, and other directional systems for for ship, plane. and missile uses would generate another period of corporate growth, requiring the construction of the Lake Success plant, where this photograph was taken, in 1941.
The company would continue this work in the years after the war. In 1955, the Sperry Corporation merged with Remington-Rand, creating the Sperry Rand Company. The decades that followed saw additional internal divisions and mergers, though the Sperry name is still maintained by Sperry Marine, an English company providing technological equipment for commercial marine and naval use formed in 1997 by its parent company, Northrop Grumman Corporation's, acquisition of Sperry Marine, Decca, and C. Plath.