Post-War Developments: 1946-1956

North American Aviation ... Autonetics

A monument commemorating the people, programs and legacy of Autonetics
A monument commemorating the people, programs and legacy of Autonetics opened Aug. 3, 2010, the 52nd anniversary of the first submarine voyage under the polar ice cap, which was made possible by an Autonetics inertial navigation system. The monument is located at 3195 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, Calif

Autonetics originated in North American Aviation's Technical Research Laboratory, a small unit in the Los Angeles Division's engineering department in 1945. In 1946, the laboratory won an Army Air Force contract to develop a 175- to-500-mile-range glide missile. The work and the lab expanded, so that by June 1948, all of the Aerophysics Laboratory was consolidated at Downey, Calif. The evolution of the Navaho missile program then resulted in the establishment of Autonetics as a separate division of North American Aviation in 1955, first located in Anaheim, Calif.

Autonetics included the Navigation Systems division, designing and producing inertial and stellar-inertial navigation systems for ships, submarines, missiles, aircraft and space vehicles. Other products included alignment devices and attitude reference systems for missile launchers, artillery, orientation, land survey, aircraft and missile-range ships.

The Autonetics Data Systems division developed data-processing systems, general-purpose digital computers, ground support equipment, control systems and telemetry systems. The Electro Sensor Systems division built multi-function radar systems, armament control computers, data and information display systems for high performance aircraft, and sensor equipment.

Autonetics built a portable office computer and ranging radar for trainers and fighters and was responsible for the guidance and control system for the Boeing-built Minuteman missiles. The division ultimately produced the Monica family of microcomputers and the D37B Minuteman II computer, in which microminiaturization reduced weight by two-thirds.

Milestones also included the first airplane flight of an inertial autonavigator (XN-1) in 1950 and the first flight of an all-solid-state computer (for the Navaho guidance system) in 1955.

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