Raytheon CorporationRaytheon is based in Lexington, Massachusetts and is a major United States defense contractor.
Two former college roommates Laurence K. Marshall and Vannevar Bush, along with scientist Charles G. Smith, founded the American Appliance Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1922. The company's first product was a gaseous rectifier, called the Raytheon, that allowed a radio receiver to run off mains power without needing a battery. The company changed its name to Raytheon in 1925. In World War II Raytheon manufactured magnetron tubes for use in radar sets, and then complete radar systems. In 1945 Raytheon's Percy Spencer discovered that the magnetron could also be used to cook food, and so invented the microwave oven. In 1948 Raytheon began to manufacture guided missiles, which form a large part of its business in 2003. Raytheon also manufactures semiconductors for the electronics industry. In the late 20th century it produced a wide range of integrated circuits and other components, but at present (2003) it specializes in gallium arsenide semiconductors for radio communications.