The rags-to-riches story of Paul Galvin

Paul Vincent Galvin is an American inventor and entrepreneur. Born in Illinois, USA on July 27, 1895, he invented the first car stereo and co-founded Motorola.

Paul Galvin
Paul Galvin (Credit: Illinois Business Hall of Fame)

Paul Galvin grew up in a rural town. After high school, he took odd jobs to sustain his college life at the University of Illinois but he had to quit after two years because of financial problems. During the First World War, he was sent to France as an artillery officer. When he returned home, he found employment in a storage battery. Later, he partnered with a friend to manufacture storage batteries. The business was unsuccessful so he went to Chicago with his new family to work in a candy factory. In 1926, he again entered the storage manufacturing business and for the second time, the business went bankrupt. When his shop was about to be auctioned, he joined the bidding and won with the help and encouragement of a big company, Sears Roebuck, which promised to purchase his products.

In 1928, Paul set up Galvin Manufacturing with limited capital. A year later, the Great Depression began and sales plummeted. Once again, he was on the brink of bankruptcy. Luckily, a supplier suggested that he try producing car radios. He was now on the road to success.

Paul Galvin began selling car radios in 1930 under the name Motorola, a play on the words motion and radio. Over the years, he diversified into power supply equipment, two-way radios which became very popular in the military and police departments, home radios, television sets, and semiconductor. In 1956, he turned over the presidency of his company to his son, Bob.

Paul died of leukemia in 1959. Through persistence and hard work, he was able to build an industrial giant producing quality products for the whole world.

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