To affirm that the airplane is going to revolutionize the future is to be guilty of the wildest exaggeration.
-- Scientific American, 1910
During the last 100 years, humans went from walking on Earth to walking on the moon. They went from riding horses to flying jet airplanes. With each decade, aviation technology crossed another frontier, and, with each crossing, the world changed.
During the 20th century, five companies charted the course of aerospace history in the United States. They were the Boeing Airplane Co., Douglas Aircraft Co., McDonnell Aircraft Corp., North American Aviation and Hughes Aircraft. By the dawning of the new millennium, they had joined forces to share a legacy of victory and discovery, cooperation and competition, high adventure and hard struggle.
Their stories began with five men who shared the vision that gave tangible wings to the eternal dream of flight. William Edward Boeing, born in 1881 in Detroit, Mich., began building floatplanes near Seattle, Wash. Donald Wills Douglas, born in 1892 in New York, began building bombers and passenger transports in Santa Monica, Calif. James Smith McDonnell, born in 1899 in Denver, Colo., began building jet fighters in St. Louis, Mo. James Howard "Dutch" Kindelberger, born in 1895 in Wheeling, W.Va., began building trainers in Los Angeles, Calif. Howard Hughes Jr. was born in Houston, Texas, in 1905. The Hughes Space and Communications Co. built the world's first geosynchronous communications satellite in 1963.
The companies began their journey across the frontiers of aerospace at different times and under different circumstances. Their paths merged and their contributions are the common heritage of The Boeing Company today.