The history of Palomar Products starts around 1970 with a group of engineers and managers at the Hughes Aircraft Company Space and Communications Group. Earlier, in 1965, Robert Bower at the Hughes Research Labs conceived of the self-aligned gate ion implanted MOSFET. This technology allowed the Hughes Space and Comm engineers to design single chip semiconductor analog to digital converters (ADCs), which enabled them to develop small, lightweight airline passenger entertainment systems.
The passenger entertainment development turned into a major product line that years later was spun off as Avicom and later sold to Rockwell Collins, where the organization continues to be a major supplier of airline passenger entertainment and communications systems.
The self-aligned gate ion implant MOSFET technology also allowed the Hughes Space and Comm team to adapt the ADC design into an audio mixer LSI device that provided individual volume control of numerous separate analog input signals and to sum the signals into a single composite output signal. The device also switched a single input signal to any selected output port and yet provided extreme crosstalk isolation. Armed with this technology, the Hughes Space and Comm team was able to successfully compete for and perform on many of the secure airborne intercommunications system (ICS) programs listed here. The MOS LSI was also adapted to be used as part of a large audio switch matrix that required extreme crosstalk isolation. That large audio switch is the well-known SA-2112 Secure Voice Switch that is still operating on most of the U. S. Navy ships that are frigates or larger in size.
Since passenger entertainment systems, secure airborne intercommunications systems and shipboard secure voice switches were not part of the Hughes Space and Comm core business, the team of engineers and managers moved from El Segundo to Newport Beach, California, where they joined the Hughes Microelectronics Center and formed a product line. The product line business grew enormously, so Hughes created a new division called the Microelectronics Systems Division (MSD).
MSD continued to grow and outgrew the Newport Beach facility. They moved to Irvine California and operated there for several years. In the late 1980s, Hughes management decided to build a large building in a new area called Rancho Santa Margarita. The building was constructed and occupied by the Hughes division for around four years. During that time, the two major product lines were (1) commercial avionics and (2) secure military communications. The commercial avionics group built the passenger entertainment and cockpit intercoms for DC-10s and 747s. The secure military communications group built the airborne secure intercommunications systems and the large shipboard secure voice switches. The division was renamed the Technology Products Division (TPD).
As part of the overall defense industry consolidation and divestitures in the early 1990’s due to reduced defense spending, Hughes management decided to put the building up for sale and to move the product lines elsewhere. That building is now occupied by Cox Communications. The commercial avionics product line moved to the Avicom facility in Pomona, California. The military communications product line moved to Carlsbad, California, where it joined the Hughes Displays group and the Assembly and Test (welders and bonders) group. The Sound Retrieval System (SRS) product line that was created at TPD was spun off and became SRS Labs.
In October 1995, the division management with the help of Citibank Venture Capital bought the division, along with Hughes Identification Devices (HID) and AML Wireless Systems from Hughes and formed Palomar Technologies Corporation. Palomar Products was one of the original three companies formed under Palomar Technologies Corporation. As shown here, Palomar Products retained all the product lines of the Hughes Carlsbad division. The other two companies were Hughes Identification Devices (HID) and AML Wireless Systems. HID was sold to Assa Abloy AB in the year 2000. It is now a thriving company doing business as HID Global. AML Wireless Systems was sold later and is now AML Wireless Networks.
In late 1997, it was announced that Palomar Products would be split into three companies – Palomar Products Inc. (formerly the Assembly and Test product line), Palomar Display Products and Palomar Communications Inc. (the military and commercial communications group).
In 1998, Palomar Communications moved back to Rancho Santa Margarita California to its current location at 23042 Arroyo Vista. In that same time period, some company names changed. Palomar Technologies Corporation became Palomar Technological Companies, Palomar Products became Palomar Technologies, Inc. and Palomar Communications became Palomar Products Inc.
In June 2005, Palomar Products was acquired by Esterline Technologies. Palomar Display Products and Palomar Technologies were not part of the Esterline acquisition and remain separate companies.
Today, Palomar Products continues to be a leading manufacturer of TEMPEST qualified secure communications systems. The latest generation of self-aligned gate ion implant MOSFET LSI audio mixer devices are still the heart of the popular AN/AIC-34 and related intercommunications systems flying on most international P-3s, all the AC-130 Gunships and a large percentage of the programs listed here. In 2002, the all-digital DCS-2100 was selected by Boeing for the Australian Project Wedgetail 737 AEW&C airplanes. Since then, variations of the DCS-2100 are being installed on all Boeing 737 AEW&C airplanes as well as all P-8A and P-8I airplanes.
In 2011, Palomar Products is completing the development, qualification and certification of the next generation compact digital communications management system (CMS). It is called the CMS-9100. You can see some of the CMS-9100 capabilities here. The webpage does not give all the features of the CMS-9100. If you want to hear more about its capabilities please contact Bob Lawson via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone 1-949-766-5434.
In 2009, Esterline acquired Racal Acoustics in the UK – a world-class maker of hearing saving active noise reduction headsets and earphones, used by militaries throughout the world. Esterline combined Palomar Products and Racal Acoustics into a “Platform” called Esterline Communications Systems. In 2011, Palomar Products and Racal Acoustics will be rebranding their literature and advertising over to Esterline Communications Systems, but will legally remain two separate companies doing business as Racal Acoustics and Palomar Products.