William J. Halligan founded his own radio manufactory in Chicago in late 1932. Prior to this, he had been involved in radio parts sales for some years but decided that the time was right for a handcrafted Amateur Radio receiver - the company name being a portmanteau of Halli(gan) and (hand)crafters.
The fledgling company was located at 417 State Street and immediately ran into patent difficulties when RCA decided to sue them for building radio sets without an RCA patent license. An opportunity came to purchase the concern of Silver-Marshall Inc. in 1933 and, with it, an RCA patent license as the most valuable asset.
In order to meet their financial obligations, Hallicrafters produced radios for other manufacturers until they were financially secure to begin production of their own line of communications receivers, starting with the SX-9 'Super Skyrider', in late 1935.
By 1938, Hallicrafters were doing business in eighty-nine countries and were considered to manufacture the most popular sets in the USA. That year, the move was made into the production of radio transmitters. With the outbreak of WW2 , the company geared up for wartime production, and was responsible for many new designs and innovations for use by the US Armed Services, probably the best-known were the HT-4/BC610 and related equipment used in the military SCR-229 communications package.
Production of Ham radio gear and related items was all but suspended until 1945. After the war, focus was again on consumer electronics, including radio phonographs, AM/FM receivers, clock radios and TV’s
The boom years for Hallicrafters were from 1945 to 1963, during which the company produced equipment thought by many to be superbly designed, including the famous S-38 receiver, which received a cosmetic "makeover" by industrial designer Raymond Loewy.
In 1952 Hallicrafters' main plant in Chicago housed general offices and the factory and was a block long. In addition to the main plant was a 3-story building of 72,000 square feet (6,700 m2) two blocks away, a 1-story coil plant of 12,000 square feet (1,100 m2) on Chicago's north side, and 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) of production and storage space in three other buildings within a five-mail radius of the main plant. The company employed 2,500 people.
In 1966 'Bill' Halligan sold the company to Northrop and the Halligan family involvement ended. Northrop ran the company until the early 1970s, but by this time, fierce Japanese competition was putting pressure on the US domestic electronics market. Northrop sold the company name (but kept the factory, by then located in Rolling Meadows, a Chicago suburb) in 1975, bringing non-military electronics production to an end. The Hallicrafters plant became Northrop Corporation's Defense Systems Division at that time.
The name and assets of Hallicrafters were traded over the following years, even though there were no products bearing the name. Since around 1988, the remaining assets and rights to the 'Hallicrafters' name & logos have been held by court-appointed trustees.
Much of Hallicrafters equipment is still in common use by collectors and vintage radio enthusiasts, and widely available on the used market
Hallicrafters Sky Champion S-20R
Hallicrafters Skyrider Marine, Model S-22R
Hallicrafters Model S-35 Panoramic Receiver
Sky Courier Model RE-1