- Boeing Co.
Major U.S. firm that is the world's largest aerospace company and foremost maker of commercial jet transports.It was founded by William E. Boeing (1881–1956) in 1916 (as Aero Products Company). In the late 1920s it became part of United Aircraft and Transport Corp., but it reemerged as an independent entity in 1934 when that company was broken up to comply with antitrust legislation. Boeing pioneered the development of single-wing planes in the 1930s; its B-17 Flying Fortress (first flown 1935) and B-29 Superfortress (1942) played prominent roles in World War II. After the war the company developed the B-52 jet bomber, long a mainstay of U.S. strategic forces. It produced the first U.S. jetliner, the Boeing 707 (in service 1958), and went on to develop a highly successful series of commercial jet transports. By the start of the 21st century these formed seven familiesthe narrow-body 737 and 757; wide-body 747, 767, and 777; 717 (formerly McDonnell Douglas MD-95); and MD-11. In the 1960s Boeing built the Lunar Orbiters, Lunar Roving Vehicles, and the first stage of the Saturn V rockets (see Saturn) for the U.S. Apollo program. Beginning in 1993, it served as NASA's prime contractor for the International Space Station. In 1996 it purchased the aerospace and defense units of Rockwell International Corp., and a year later it bought McDonnell Douglas Corp. It acquired the satellite business of Hughes Electronics in 2000. See also Lockheed Martin Corp.
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