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Sperry Corporation

Sperry Corporation began in 1910 as the Sperry Gyroscope Company, founded by Elmer Ambrose Sperry to manufacture navigation equipment, chiefly his own inventions - the marine gyrostabilizer and the gyrocompass. During WW I the company diversified into aircraft components including bomb sights and fire control systems. In 1918 Lawrence Sperry split from his father to compete over aero-instruments with the Lawrence Sperry Aircraft Company, including the new automatic pilot. In 1924 following the death of Lawrence (December 13, 1923) the two firms were brought together. The company became Sperry Corporation in 1933. The new corporation was a holding company for a number of smaller entities such as the original Sperry Gyroscope, but also Ford Instrument Company, Intercontinental Aviation, Inc. and others. The company did very well during WW II as military demand skyrocketed, it specialised in high technology devices such as computer controlled bomb sights, airborne radar systems, and automated take off and landing systems.

Post-war the company expanded its interests in electronics and computing, producing the company's first digital computer (SPEEDAC) in 1953. In 1955 Sperry acquired Remington Rand and renamed itself Sperry Rand. Also acquiring Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and Engineering Research Associates with Remington Rand the company developing the successful UNIVAC computer series and signing a valuable cross-licensing deal with IBM. The company remained a major military contractor. From 1967 to 1973 the corporation was involved in an acrimonious antitrust lawsuit with Honeywell, Inc. In 1978 Sperry Rand decided to concentrate on its computing interests and a number of divisions including Remington Rand Systems, Remington Rand Machines, Ford Instrument Company, Sperry Aerospace and Sperry Vickers were sold. The company dropped the Rand from its title and reverted back to Sperry Corporation.

In 1986, and after the success of a second hostile takeover bid engineered by Burroughs CEO and ex. US Treasurer Michael Bluementhal and approved by then President Ronald Reagan, Sperry merged with Burroughs Corporation to become Unisys. The takeover came about even after Sperry Corporations used a "poisoned pill" in the form of a major share price hike to dissuade the hostile takeover bid and as a result Burroughs had to borrow much more from the banks than was anticipated in order to complete its bid. Certain internal divisions of Sperry such as Sperry New Holland, Sperry Gyroscope, Sperry Vickers, Sperry Marine and Sperry Flight Systems were sold off after the merger.