In 1885, long before anyone talks about carbon footprints or climate change, Warren Johnson launches a company to explore new ways to harness and conserve precious energy resources. In doing so, he also launches a tradition of customer-focused innovation—a tradition that has inspired thousands of employees for more than 130 years and that continues to drive the success of Johnson Controls. Even before he founds the firm now known as Johnson Controls, Warren Johnson is the quintessential inventor. His pneumatic tower clocks, electric storage batteries, wireless telegraph business and steam-powered luxury cars and postal service trucks anticipate—and shape—the future.
Warren Johnson patents the “electric tele-thermoscope,” a building temperature-control device, and travels from his Whitewater, Wis., home to Milwaukee in search of manufacturing financing.
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Warren Johnson partners with Milwaukee businessman and financier William Plankinton to form the Johnson Electric Service Company. Johnson serves as vice president and treasurer, and Plankinton as president. Installations at the Milwaukee Public Library and city hall help the business grow quickly.
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The Spirit of Invention
In the age of Edison, Bell, Daimler, Pasteur, Tesla and Ericsson, anything seems possible. It’s an era of firsts: electric lights, internal combustion engines, X-rays and hydroelectric power plants.
Against this backdrop, Warren Johnson toils for three years to invent a device to regulate room temperature. In 1883, he receives his first patent for what will be known as the electric room thermostat—an invention that launches an industry and changes how people live. Within two years, his quickly growing Johnson Electric Service Company brings evenly regulated temperatures to buildings around the world.
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Warren Johnson and associates patent steam valves, steam traps, pressure reduction valves, water heaters, hydraulic air compressors and electric meters in developing the first automatic zone temperature control system. A century later, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers calls it “the grandfather of all control systems.”
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A McClure’s magazine ad promises “domestic harmony and budget savings” with the Johnson Electric Service Company Furnace Draft Regulator.
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William Plankinton retires and Warren Johnson becomes president. Johnson’s drive for innovation leads to patents for an “auto-carriage” steam generator and a forerunner of power steering. Over the next 11 years, Johnson Electric Service Company makes 1,000 steam-powered cars, fire trucks, limousines and ambulances.
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With installations worldwide—including the U.S. Capitol, the New York Stock Exchange, a Warsaw factory and a palace in Tokyo—Johnson Electric Service Company changes its name to Johnson Service Company and moves to the downtown Milwaukee site that is now headquarters for Johnson Controls Building Efficiency.
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Johnson Service Company introduces a line of gasoline cars featuring luxurious leather and wood interiors.
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The first skyscraper, Singer Sewing Machine’s New York City headquarters, has “every approved modern device for comfort, convenience and safety,” including 1,200 Johnson Service Company room thermostats. Future Johnson Controls company York International’s refrigeration system delivers “a continuous supply of cold drinking water.”
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Comfort Catches On
Construction booms. The elevator sends buildings to new heights—and multi-zone temperature controls make them comfortable places to work.
Harry Ellis becomes president when Warren Johnson passes away in 1911. Ellis sells the automotive and pneumatic clock businesses. Like Johnson, though, he emphasizes efficient manufacturing and dedicated customer service, insisting that only company technicians install Johnson Service Company building control systems.
World War I takes a bite out of civilian construction, but the company’s innovative products become money-saving necessities during the Great Depression.
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Globe Electric Company, a future Johnson Controls business, begins making electrical equipment for streetcars and street lights, and soon adds automotive battery production.
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A 15-cent U.S. postage stamp acknowledges the country’s transition to the horseless carriage, depicting a postal delivery truck made by Johnson Service Company.
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Future Johnson Controls business Hoover Steel Ball Company opens to serve the precision bearing and automotive industries. Years later, it expands into automotive seating.
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Civilian construction slows during World War I, and Johnson Service Company becomes ineligible for military procurement when the U.S. government categorizes its products as luxuries. The company continues to thrive, though, by retrofitting old buildings with temperature controls.
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As a new decade dawns, a war-weary public seeks out entertainment. Motion pictures are all the rage, and Johnson Service Company gets into the act with a product that helps make movie houses a haven of comfort: controls for air conditioning.
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The Johnson Service Company’s pneumatic system for temperature and humidity control promises fuel savings of up to 35 percent.
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Johnson Service Company buys the patent for a dual thermostat developed by the chief custodian of the New York City schools (and a Johnson Service Company customer). The device lowers temperatures automatically by sensing increasing air pressure when occupants leave a room and reduces fuel consumption—a boon during the Great Depression.
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Many companies cut costs when the stock market crashes, but Johnson Service Company’s sales remain strong for years due to a backlog of orders—and a rising demand for the dual thermostat, which automatically cuts fuel consumption when spaces are unoccupied.
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A worsening economy forces Johnson Service Company to lay off workers, reduce salaries and move sales offices to salesmen’s homes. With construction stagnant, the company focuses on retrofitting older buildings with the Duo-Stat, which saves fuel by adjusting indoor temperature as outdoor conditions change.
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Thriving on Innovation
As the Depression grinds on, government employment programs generate construction projects for private and public buildings that need temperature regulation systems. When war breaks out again, the U.S. government classifies Johnson Service Company’s products as essential.
The war’s end unleashes demand for new buildings with modern features like air conditioning. Johnson Service Company responds by developing a pneumatic control center for controlling temperature from one location. Emphasis shifts from individual room controls to “zone control systems.”
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Joseph Cutler, who started with Johnson Service Company as a sales engineer in 1912, becomes president. Over the next 22 years, he reorganizes the sales force and adds 79 branch offices, and sales grow from $3 million in 1939 to $67.3 million in 1960.
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Johnson Service Company goes public, listing its securities over the counter.
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The U.S. government classifies building controls as essential to the war effort because they improve worker efficiency in defense plants and save fuel needed in combat zones. Johnson Service Company equips U.S. military training facilities and defense plants with temperature and humidity control systems.
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With the war’s end, new construction increases, as does demand for skilled workers. Johnson Service Company launches its first formal technical training program in New York. The Johnson Technical Institute offers the equivalent of two free years of college to employees who complete night classes or correspondence courses.
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The new United Nations building in New York City epitomizes a fresh generation of construction. Fully air-conditioned, it requires 3,600 Johnson Service Company thermostats and ancillary controls.
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Eli Lilly & Company rushes researcher Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine into mass production at its Indianapolis, Indiana, plant. Johnson Service Company installs critical temperature-regulating apparatus in rooms where the virus is grown.
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Business booms for Johnson Service Company as control systems grow more complex. The numbers of employees, branches and installations hit all-time highs, thanks to demand for pneumatic control centers that let one person monitor an entire building’s room and water temperatures and ventilation from one location.
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Johnson Service Company’s sales surpass US$1 billion after merging with Penn Controls. The renamed Johnson Controls expands its technological capabilities through acquisitions, starting with Globe-Union, the largest U.S. manufacturer of automotive batteries. By adding seating and plastics machinery firm Hoover Universal and seating supplier Ferro Manufacturing, Johnson Controls can design, engineer and assemble complete automotive seating systems.
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Richard Murphy becomes president. He holds that position for six years, but his overall service to the company is longer than any other employee—an amazing 63 years.
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Having already begun serving international markets through subsidiaries in England, France, Australia, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland, Johnson Service Company builds its first European manufacturing plant in Lomagna, Italy. Worldwide sales exceed US$100 million.
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Now listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Johnson Service Company provides climate controls to prevent rain clouds forming in the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Cape Canaveral, Florida, vehicle assembly building. Future Johnson Controls company York International installs 10,500 tons of water chillers for air conditioning.
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Fred Brengel becomes the company’s sixth president. During his 21-year tenure, building control products are computerized, acquisitions move the company into automotive batteries and seating, and sales climb from US$140 million to $3.1 billion.
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Johnson Service Company enters the Fortune 500 after acquiring refrigeration and gas heating controls maker Penn Controls. Product line additions include refrigeration controls for supermarkets, humidity controls for agricultural drying equipment, and controls for commercial laundromats.
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Johnson Service Company introduces the JC/80, the first mini-computer for controlling building systems. It cuts fuel consumption 30 percent—and encourages building owners to automate as oil prices skyrocket. The company also adds computerized fire control and security systems for commercial buildings.
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The company changes its name to Johnson Controls, Inc.
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Johnson Controls becomes the leader in U.S. automotive battery production when it acquires Globe-Union. Founded in 1911 as Globe Electric, the company had invented the thin-wall, high-strength polypropylene battery case, a universally recognized breakthrough in battery design.
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Diversification at Johnson Controls continues with the acquisition of Hoover Universal (the source of its automotive seating and plastics machinery businesses), and automotive seating supplier Ferro Manufacturing. The acquisitions mean Johnson Controls can design, engineer and assemble complete automotive seating systems.
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Personal computers, mobile phones and the Internet change the world, while customer focus, globalization and outsourcing shape the business landscape. Johnson Controls achieves exceptional growth by remaining true to its core values of environmental stewardship, diversity and community support.
Entering the 21st century, the company adds business operations and customers worldwide. Its 130,000 employees provide products and services for more than 200 million vehicles, 12 million homes and one million commercial buildings—and lead the way into the future.
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The first Johnson Controls just-in-time automotive facilities in Indiana, Illinois and Ontario deliver sequenced seats to factories within hours of receiving orders. The battery unit adds Honda, Mazda and Toyota as customers and is the first aftermarket parts maker to win Ford’s “Q1 Preferred Quality Award.”
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Jim Keyes becomes president. During his 14-year tenure, Johnson Controls becomes a major automotive supplier, the battery division rebuilds after losing Sears as a customer, the controls division transitions from analog to digital, and overall sales increase six-fold.
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Johnson Controls enters facilities management by acquiring Pan Am World Services, renaming it Global Workplace Solutions, and initiates annual forums that attract speakers such as U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to discuss energy issues and climate change.
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The breakthrough Metasys® Building Automation System links a building’s environmental control, energy management, lighting, fire management and security systems. Johnson Controls enters the European automotive market by purchasing an interest in German component maker E.A.H. Naue GmbH & Co. KG.
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Johnson Controls achieves US$5.2 billion in sales.
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When Sears ends its relationship with Johnson Controls, company leaders respond by implementing best business practices that identify key metrics to drive performance and reduce costs companywide. All the lost business is replaced even before Sears returns as a customer two years later.
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Johnson Controls makes seats for more than eight million new automobiles, is listed in Industry Week Magazine’s “100 Best Managed Companies in The World,” acquires Prince Automotive and greatly expands its automotive interior systems business. Sales approach US$10 billion.
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Having been in plastics since acquiring Hoover Universal, Johnson Controls is the largest U.S. soft drink bottle supplier and recycler and the world leader in plastic manufacturing and recycling technology—but sells its container and plastics machinery divisions to focus on core products. Making seats for Beijing Jeep opens new markets in China.
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Johnson Controls ranks first among South America’s automotive seating suppliers, installs its 10,000th Metasys® Building Automation System and acquires the Becker Group, a European automotive interior supplier, and Cardkey integrated security solutions.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Buildings program names Johnson Controls “Ally of the Year.” The company also receives a General Motors “Supplier of the Year” award and the “Mandela International Award for Good Diversity Practices.”
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Johnson Controls acquires Japanese automobile seat supplier Ikeda Bussan and introduces the Auto Vision in-vehicle video system. The company’s Brengel Technology Center in Milwaukee is one of the first buildings in the world certified under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED).
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Terrorists crash a jetliner into the U.S. Pentagon on September 11, killing 64 passengers and 125 people inside in the resulting firestorm. The Pentagon facilities manager says a Johnson Controls building operations control center installed two months earlier let him close dampers to contain fire and smoke, potentially limiting further casualties.
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Johnson Controls acquires its Varta automotive battery division based in Germany. Sales exceed US$20 billion. John Barth is named the company's eighth CEO.
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The company acquires Borg Instruments of Germany and is named to the Billion Dollar Roundtable for exceeding US$1 billion in purchases from diverse suppliers.
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The U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium taps Johnson Controls to develop Li-Ion hybrid vehicle batteries. Dividends increase for the 30th year in a row. The company earns a World Environment Center gold medal for sustainable development, and the Brengel Technology Center is LEED® Gold certified.
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Johnson Controls makes its largest ever acquisition: York International heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration products and services, with worldwide presence. The company also acquires Delphi’s global automotive battery business and is named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.
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In a year of sales exceeding US$30 billion, Johnson Controls hosts U.S. President George W. Bush for a major energy speech at Building Efficiency headquarters in Milwaukee.
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The "open globe" logo debuts and Steve Roell is named the company’s ninth CEO. Johnson Controls is a founding partner in the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program. A joint venture with China’s Fengfan Ltd. to make sealed lead acid batteries creates an edge in developing countries.
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Best business practices and forecasting keep Johnson Controls ahead even as automakers suffer in a global economic crash. The company purchases US$1.65 billion from woman- and minority-owned suppliers and is Walmart’s “Automotive Supplier of the Year.” The American Society of Mechanical Engineers names the 1895 temperature control system a “mechanical engineering landmark.”
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Johnson Controls is a major player in reducing the Empire State Building’s energy use by up to 38 percent. Walmart makes Johnson Controls its sole source of automotive, marine, powersport and lawn and garden batteries. The re3 (Rethink, Renew, Respond) concept car, a five-passenger plug-in hybrid, debuts at American auto shows.
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In the company’s 125th year, its Glendale, Wis., headquarters is LEED® Platinum certified. Building Efficiency takes on its largest order ever for work on the Holy Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and the Holland, Mich., battery plant is the first in the U.S. to make complete hybrid and electric vehicle Li-Ion battery cells.
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Corporate Responsibility magazine lists Johnson Controls No. 1 among the “100 Best Corporate Citizens” in the U.S. Worldwide revenue surpasses $40 billion. Acquiring German companies C. Rob. Hammerstein and Keiper/Recaro lets Automotive Experience offer a full menu of metal components and mechanisms.
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Power Solutions opens its first U.S. battery recycling center in Florence, South Carolina, featuring advanced environmental controls. The Stephen A. Roell Innovation Center opens in Milwaukee, underscoring the Johnson Controls commitment to fostering new ideas and creating new value for customers.
York signs agreement with Philco to market room air conditioners
January 1, 1939
In 1935, the York Ice Machinery Corporation (later York International, which was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2005) developed the first successful single-room air conditioner. Four years later, (on January 1, 1939, to be exact), York entered into an agreement with Philco Radio and Television Corporation in which York would manufacture a line of room air conditioners exclusively for Philco's world-wide distribution and sale. At the time, Philco was best known for its radio sets, including the now iconic "cathedral-styled" models. However, York was interested in the marketing possibilities that came with Philco's distribution organization. Philco marketed the York-built "air-coolers" under the "York Cool-Wave" trade name. The York-Philco partnership proved lucrative for York, to which their 1939 annual report attests: "Of unusual interest in the past year's business is the way the public accepted and purchased our recently developed products. It represented a large portion of our total booked volume. ... It covers also the small portable room coolers for homes and offices which we are manufacturing under contract with [Philco]. The types, styles and prices seemed to reach a much broader market than we have previously enjoyed." York's relationship with Philco lasted until October 1956, when Philco did not renew its latest contract with York. That same year, York was acquired by Borg-Warner. The Ford Motor Company acquired Philco in 1961 to manufacture radios for their automobiles.
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Atlanta's landmark Fox Theatre opens
December 25, 1929
On December 25, 1929, the opulent Fox Theatre in Atlanta opened its doors for the first time. Described by a local newspaper as having "a picturesque and almost disturbing grandeur beyond imagination," the Fox combined elements of Islamic and Egyptian architecture in a Moorish design - a result of the building originally having been planned as a Shriner's temple. The 4,678-seat auditorium, which was designed for movies and live performances, replicated an Arabian courtyard complete with a night sky of 96 embedded crystal "stars" (a third of which actually flickered) and a projection of clouds that slowly drifted across the artificial sky. Among the theatre's amenities was a state-of-the-art Johnson Service Company (today's Johnson Controls) pneumatic temperature control system. By the 1970s, however, the Fox had fallen into decline. In 1974, Southern Bell approached the Fox's owners with an offer to buy the theatre with the intent of tearing it down and building a new headquarters on the site. The ensuing public outcry and massive campaign to save the theatre resulted in the city refusing to issue a demolition permit; ultimately, a complicated deal was brokered that prevented the Fox's demolition. After it was saved from the wrecking ball, work began to restore the theatre to its former glory. In 1977, as part of the restoration effort, Johnson Controls' Atlanta branch worked on replacing some of the worn out elements of the theatre's original temperature control system. Since some of the parts needed had long since been discontinued from production, a call was put out to the other company branches for the parts. Several branches, including Lubbock, Regina, San Francisco, Nashville, and Syracuse, responded with the necessary parts. Today, the Fox is the last of Atlanta's great movie palaces to survive, the others having been destroyed or turned into multiplexes.
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Warren Johnson's wireless communication experiments
November 28, 1899
The St. John's Daily Sun of New Brunswick, Canada, reported on November 28, 1899 that Professor Warren S. Johnson (the founder of Johnson Controls) and Charles L. Fortier made several successful tests of their wireless telegraph equipment in Milwaukee's Plankinton House Hotel. They were able to telegraph a message, without the use of wires, through seven walls. A second successful test involved transmitting signals through three fireproof vaults and an ordinary telegraph switchboard. Another test involved placing the wireless telegraph equipment inside one of the closed steel vaults. "Both doors were closed and the combination locks turned. The signals were then transmitted clearly from the inside of the vault to an adjoining room," the newspaper reported. Johnson maintained that his invention was "materially different" from that of famed wireless inventor Guglielmo Marconi, and that his system had overcome the flaws in Marconi's invention. A large gathering of local dignitaries witnessed the experiments and took turns having their own messages transmitted through the hotel. Johnson and Fortier would form the American Wireless Telegraph Company (AWTC) in January 1900 to formalize their scientific and business partnership. Later that year, the pair took home a silver medal from the World's Fair in Paris for their wireless apparatus (Marconi's device received the bronze medal in the same competition). However, the AWTC ultimately proved unsuccessful in creating a viable wireless system. After Johnson's death in 1911, the AWTC was dissolved.
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Westinghouse chooses Johnson temperature control system
October 23, 1894
Many elite families and captains of industry in the last decade of the nineteenth century became customers of the Johnson Electric Service Company (Johnson Controls' original name). In that period, the new temperature control systems offered by the company were considered luxury items for residential applications. Therefore, the names of wealthy clients such as Morgan, Astor, Pabst, and Vanderbilt dot the company contract registers of the day, as they began to specify Johnson Heat Regulating Apparatus for their mansions. Among these names was H. H. Westinghouse, who contracted for a Johnson installation in his newly built mansion in Edgewood, Pennsylvania on October 23, 1894. H. H. Westinghouse was the vice president of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company and, later, the president of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. Both of those companies had been founded by his older brother George, the famed inventor and entrepreneur. Among George's many inventions were train air brakes, automatic railway block signals, the world's first practical electric locomotive, and the first practical application of alternating current for electric power transmission. The Westinghouse brand name became well-known in the twentieth century for a wide range of products, especially light bulbs and household appliances. After the Westinghouse Electric Corporation bought CBS in 1995, the company sold off most of its remaining non-broadcast operations and changed its name to CBS Corporation.
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The York Manufacturing Company's first stockholders meeting
Sept. 7, 1874
The York Manufacturing Company (later York International, which was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2005) held its first stockholders meeting on Sept. 7, 1874. Stephen Morgan Smith was elected the first president of the newly formed company. Smith contributed two patents for his "Success" washing and clothes wringing machines to the nascent venture. Businessman Jacob Loucks, who had invested $10,000 in the company, was elected secretary. Smith was to be paid $1,200, and Loucks $1,000 per annum. Oliver Bollinger, the company's first engineer, was to be paid two dollars a day to serve as factory foreman in charge of 14 employees. Bollinger had invented a turbine water wheel, which together with the "Success" machines, were the company's initial products. Three men who shared in the rights to Bollinger's invention, namely George Buck, Robert Shetter and H. H. La Motte, decided to join the new enterprise as well. In exchange for $7,000, La Motte gave his machine shop and its equipment to the company to use as its first factory. It would not be until 1885 that the company would begin to manufacture the ice and refrigerating machinery that led to its long-term success.
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Company founder receives silver medal at the Paris World's Fair
Aug. 18, 1900
At the beginning of 1900, Johnson Controls' founder Warren Johnson established, along with fellow inventor Charles Fortier, the American Wireless Telegraph Company (AWTC) to develop and market Johnson's experiments in the field of wireless telegraphy. A few months later, one of Johnson's early wireless experiments won a silver medal at the World's Fair in Paris. (An accompanying certificate dated Aug. 18, 1900 testifies to AWTC's second place win.) Interestingly, noted Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi's entry took third place behind Johnson at the Fair. (Marconi, who would go on to win the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics, is generally credited as the inventor of radio.) While Johnson and his AWTC ultimately proved unsuccessful in creating a viable wireless system, it was noteworthy for erecting the first radio tower west of the Atlantic coast, and for achieving the first wireless communication from ship to shore on a body of fresh water. The AWTC continued experiments in wireless technology until Warren Johnson's death in 1911, after which the company was dissolved.
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Company founder Warren Johnson's first patented invention - the "electric tele-thermoscope,"
July 24, 1883
Warren Johnson was granted his first patent on July 24, 1883 for the "electric tele-thermoscope," an electric room thermostat. This device was actually only one component of a system devised by Johnson that was to radically change how temperature was controlled within buildings. Interestingly, the impetus behind Johnson's invention was not the desire for fortune or fame, but for peace and quiet. While a professor at the State Normal School in Whitewater, Wisconsin in the late 1870s, Johnson found his classes noisily disrupted once every hour or so by the school janitor. Specifically, the janitor would come into the classrooms to read the thermometers and determine if the room was too hot or too cold. If either, he would return to the basement to adjust the furnace dampers accordingly. In order to eliminate these hourly disruptions, Johnson installed electric thermostats in each room and connected them to annunciators, so called that when the thermostat made contact on the warm side, the indicator for that room would show "warm" and ring a bell in the basement; and when the contact was on the cold side, the indicator showed "cold" and rang a bell. As a result, rather than checking each classroom on an hourly basis, all the janitor had to do was listen for a bell and shift the proper damper when it rang. This system of temperature regulation was the foundation for the business Johnson formed two years later, the Johnson Electric Service Company, which eventually developed into today's multi-billion-dollar enterprise, Johnson Controls.
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"Johnson Electric Service" becomes "Johnson Service"
June 30, 1902
The company's name change from "Johnson Electric Service Company" to "Johnson Service Company" occurred 117 years ago, at a board meeting on June 30, 1902 in Milwaukee. At its founding in 1885, the company name included the word "electric," yet in the ensuing 17 years, thermostat technology had changed to wholly pneumatic, so "electric" was no longer an appropriate descriptor. Company founder Warren Johnson himself suggested the new name, and after consideration was given to other names suggested by shareholders, a vote was taken. While there was not unanimity, "Johnson Service Company" was clearly preferred, and the motion to adopt the name change was carried. Johnson Service Company would remain the official company name until 1974, when the company was renamed Johnson Controls.
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Johnson Electric Service Company helps Miller Brewing get tanked
May 11, 1901
A Johnson Electric Service Company (today's Johnson Controls) sales contract ledger entry from May 11, 1901 indicates a sale of two pasteurizing tanks to Miller Brewing Company of Milwaukee. Although Johnson Controls' history is generally associated with temperature regulation systems and devices, Company founder Professor Warren Johnson's laboratory spawned a variety of products sold by the Company in its early years, including springless door locks, chandeliers, puncture-proof tires and yes, pasteurizing tanks, too. The contract book also notes that Miller paid $380 for the tanks and some extras in August of the same year. The Miller Brewing Company was founded in Milwaukee by Frederick Miller in 1855 - making it one of the oldest businesses in Wisconsin (and thirty years older than Johnson Controls). Miller Brewing is now owned by Molson Coors.
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Canadian Ambassador to the U. S. had earlier role as Johnson legal representative
April 6, 1921
The April 6, 1921 minutes of the Johnson Temperature Regulating Company of Canada Limited shareholders meeting show that attorney Leighton Goldie McCarthy chaired the meeting, one of many that he would lead as chief legal advisor for Johnson’s Canadian subsidiary during the 1920s and 1930s. And while McCarthy’s service to the company’s Canadian subsidiary was long and distinguished, arguably his most significant work came after his time with the Johnson Temperature Regulating Company of Canada. From 1941 until 1944, McCarthy served as Canada’s Ambassador to the United States. McCarthy consulted with some of the legendary historical figures of those years, including U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (seen here with McCarthy in 1941). McCarthy died at the age of 82 in 1952.
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Corporate raider Victor Posner denied in attempt to stop Johnson Controls' acquisition of Hoover Universal
March 27, 1985
On March 27, 1985, The Wall Street Journal announced "Posner Bid to Block Johnson Controls' Purchase Is Denied." The article went on to explain that a federal court in New York denied the bid by Victor Posner, owner of APL Corp. and many other companies, to halt Johnson Controls' purchase of Hoover Universal. Financier Posner, one of the most notorious corporate raiders of the 1980s, filed the lawsuit in early March 1985 in an attempt to halt Johnson Controls' proposed acquisition of Hoover Universal in a cash-and-stock transaction valued at $500 million. At the time, Posner, through APL and nine other companies, owned 19.8% of Johnson Controls' common stock and was its largest stockholder. Fred Brengel, CEO of Johnson Controls, sought the merger with Hoover in part as a strategy to fend off a possible takeover bid by Posner. The Hoover acquisition, which was consummated two months later in May 1985, resulted in Johnson Controls' entry into the automotive seating business. In July 1985, Johnson rid itself of Posner by buying out his shares of JCI stock. Posner is caricatured here as a shark biting its own tail.
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Johnson Service Company devices help forecast the weather
Feb. 6, 1965
The Milwaukee Sentinel reported on February 6, 1965 that the Johnson Service Company (Johnson Controls' former name) had filled a $20,000 contract to produce 750 radiosondes and radiometers for the United States Weather Bureau. While Johnson had been making radiosondes since World War II, the radiometers had been recently developed by meteorologists from the United States Weather Bureau and the University of Wisconsin to detect infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Both instruments were to be used as part of a project to determine the effect such radiation has on the Earth's weather patterns. Lifted into the sky by weather balloons, the radiometers took measurements that would be sent back via radio signals from the radiosondes (also attached to the balloons) to recording stations on the ground. Although radiometers had been around for generations, the Johnson models marked a breakthrough in their combination of extreme sensitivity (they could detect a temperature change of one degree Fahrenheit from 100 miles away) at an inexpensive price ($30 apiece). Not only were the radiometers expected to improve weather forecasting, Johnson engineers believed they had applications for the Company's environmental control systems as well.