"Boeing has always built tomorrow's airplanes today!"

That phrase is from a late-1930s advertisement for the Boeing Model 314 Clipper, and it applies still today in 2016. Which proves two things: First, Boeing has always had some pretty smart advertising people. But second — and more important — it reveals the fundamental truth about The Boeing Company's leadership throughout its first century of existence, beginning with the first B & W lifting off the waters of Lake Union in 1916. Boeing has always been the leader in customer satisfaction, technical thought, and innovation. Those qualities, sustained over a century, are unmatched by any other aviation company. The following examples illustrate The Boeing Company's unassailable position as aviation's leader for the past 100 years.

The route opener

The Model 40A was used by airlines to carry mail for the US Post Office in the 1920s, replacing converted military de Havillands that had carried mail since 1918. Twenty-four of the Model 40A mail planes were ready to fly July 1, 1927, for their first day of airmail service between San Francisco and Chicago — a trip that took roughly 22 hours and involved five different airplanes.

It should be enough to say that the new airplane's tremendous innovation of an air-cooled engine sufficiently reduced the weight of the airplane to make it the top choice for mail delivery. Additionally, the Model 40A, under the umbrella of the Boeing Air Transport Company, became one of the United State's first passenger airliners. In a small compartment alongside the mail bags, the Model 40A could carry two passengers. The first passenger was Jane Eads, a reporter for the Chicago Herald-Examiner, who wrote a note on a photo of the occasion: "Here's to Boeing Air Transportation on my arrival at San Francisco, July 2, 1927, as the first passenger to travel on the transcontinental service."

Today, in the tradition of the route-opening Model 40A, the 787 Dreamliner serves more than 430 routes, with 100 of those being new nonstop markets. Since the 787's entry to service in 2011, more than 83 million passengers have flown on the airplane, traveling to their chosen destinations with unparalleled convenience.

The workhorse of the fleet

The DC-3 has been called the greatest airplane of all time, undoubtedly a reference to its workhorse reputation as well as its innovation and longevity. The Douglas DC-3 made air travel popular and airline profits possible. Design work began in 1934 at the insistence of C.R. Smith, president of American Airlines. Smith wanted two new planes — a longer DC-2 to carry more day passengers and another with railroad-type sleeping berths to carry overnight passengers. So, the DC-3 evolved from a classic DC-2 version to become bigger and better, incorporating new technology. Innovation for the DC-3 airplane produced the Douglas Sleeper Transport — also called Skysleepers by airline customers — which was the height of luxury. Fourteen plush seats (among the first herringbone, lie-flat seats in modern aviation) in four main compartments could be folded in pairs to form seven berths, while seven more folded down from the cabin ceiling. In addition to the 455 DC-3 commercial transports that were built for airlines, 10,174 were produced as C-47 military transports during World War II. Today, more than six decades after the last one was delivered, hundreds of DC-3s are still flying and earning their keep carrying passengers or cargo.

The workhorse legacy pioneered by the DC-3 continues today in the 737 family — with thousands of 737s in service and thousands more to come. And starting in 2017, the 737 MAX, with its efficiency, reliability, and passenger appeal, will redefine "workhorse" for decades to come.

The flagship airplane

Thirty years before the iconic 747 first took to the skies as a flagship for airlines worldwide, Boeing built its first flagship — the Model 314 Clipper. It was an airplane that excelled in long-distance flying as well as passenger comfort and style. As air travel became popular during the mid-1930s and passengers wanted to fly across the ocean, Pan American Airlines asked for a long-range, four-engine flying boat. In response, Boeing developed the Clipper, named after the great ocean-going sailing ships. The Model 314 had a 3,500-mile range and made the first scheduled trans-Atlantic flight on June 28, 1939. By the year's end, Clippers were routinely flying across the Pacific, navigating using sextants through a dome in the top of the fuselage. Clipper passengers looked down at the sea from large windows and enjoyed the comforts of dressing rooms, a dining salon that could be turned into a lounge, and a bridal suite. The Clipper's 74 seats converted into 40 berths for overnight travelers. Four-star hotels catered gourmet meals that were served from the Clipper's galley. Boeing built 12 Model 314s between 1938 and 1941. Production was interrupted by World War II and, sadly, none of the 12 Clippers have survived.

Although the Clipper's tenure as the Boeing flagship was short-lived, the company's flagship tradition has persisted through time and technology, now moving gracefully from the 747 to another innovative Boeing success story — that of the 777.

The innovator

The 707-320 Intercontinental was the visionary outcome of Boeing President William Allen and his leadership team staking the company's future on commercial-aviation jets. Innovation leading to increased efficiency, greater range, and customer-satisfying features defined the Boeing package then, as it does now. The competition of the day, however, was not sitting idle. Leadership at Douglas saw the potential of the 707 and began work on its own commercial jet — the DC-8. Douglas widened its fuselage to accommodate six-abreast seating, compared with the five-abreast of the early 707 design. Boeing then made a decision to widen the 707 fuselage by four inches, making it one-inch wider than the DC-8's. Boeing's next step was to introduce the 707-320 Intercontinental, with its larger wing, longer fuselage, and increased range. The changes were what the airline customers needed and wanted, and orders began pouring in for the 707. The 707-320 was the bestselling variant of the 707, with a total of 580 sold.

Today, when taking a look at the 777X family, The Boeing Company's continuing vision and competitive pattern of winning is undeniable. The 777X parallels the innovation story of the 707-320, but with a bigger wing, more-efficient engines, and increased range — proof that 100 years of experience comes in handy.

We've been doing this for 100 years

To be able to say, "We've been doing this for 100 years" is a profound advantage in the commercial aviation business. Boeing's century-long history offers a deep reservoir for technological leadership that delivers continuous innovation, helping our airline customers make their passenger customers happy. Reviewing Boeing's history leads to the constant refrain, "How did they do that?" We expect that question will be asked many times throughout Boeing's second century. Boeing will always build tomorrow's airplanes today!