Thread Number: 71628  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Why were really old Whirlpools (50s-60s) branded RCA Whirlpool?
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Post# 947750   7/11/2017 at 22:38 by superocd (PNW)        

I always thought that until the late 1990s GE was in control of RCA, so why would GE let Whirlpool use RCA, or was Whirlpool and RCA connected in some way?

Post# 947753 , Reply# 1   7/11/2017 at 23:02 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Whirlpool name was used for appliances off and on, since the Uptons first began producing washing machines.

In the 1950's Whirlpool bought RCA to get at that company's cooking and AC line; hence the name change to RCA-Whirlpool. Later RCA was dropped and the company went back to just Whirlpool.

Post# 947757 , Reply# 2   7/11/2017 at 23:08 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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The appliance and electronic divisions were eventually separated and sold to Thompson Consumer Electronics that made the cheap television/electronics in China under GE and RCA brands and GE made RCA a cheap knock off brand of appliance. Whirlpool and RCA shared a a nice early life together as well known, respected brands, but you see what happened when corporate greed takes over.

Post# 947802 , Reply# 3   7/12/2017 at 08:15 by Glhturbo2 (Greensboro, NC)        
I have heard

That Whirlpool was starting to get their foot in the door for appliances and vacuum cleaners. In those days, Whirlpool was unknown. They slapped the RCA Whirlpool name on their appliances and washers to help make them more well known. RCA Whirlpool only lasted about 10 years. From about 1956-1966. They had some of the most beautiful washers and vacuums. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Post# 947809 , Reply# 4   7/12/2017 at 09:22 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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RCA at some point sold Hotpoint-made appliances in Canada. I have a Hotpoint kettle from the 1950s (I guess) that was sold by RCA Victor.

And here, RCA Victor did also sell RCA Whirlpool appliances back in the 1960s but their laundry appliances was made by Inglis. They did use some US RCA Whirlpool parts until Whirlpool stopped using the RCA name and then they went to RCA Victor and just RCA in 1969. In 1971, they switched from selling Inglis/Whirlpool appliances to Westinghouse for about 5-6 years and then they briefly sold GE stuff in the late 1970s. That was before GE and RCA were bought by Thomson and before there were some RCA-branded GE appliances in the United States.

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Post# 947810 , Reply# 5   7/12/2017 at 09:31 by abcomatic (Bradford, Illinois)        

I have a radio from 1967 that says RCA victor on it.

Post# 947813 , Reply# 6   7/12/2017 at 09:51 by PassatDoc (Orange County, California)        

RCA was one of the TOL brands for color television in the 1960s. RCA introduced the first mass-marketed color home tv sets in c. 1954, using a broadcast format that could also be received by the millions of black and white sets then in existence.

CBS had a rival color format that was not compatible with B&W sets. Eventually NTSC chose the RCA format (with lots of lobbying from both sides).

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Post# 947833 , Reply# 7   7/12/2017 at 12:00 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

I remember seeing RCA window air conditioners as a child, but not as many as Fedders, Carrier and GE. York AC units were made by McGraw-Edison (which also owned Speed Queen then), but they were not as numerous in the Atlanta Area. I remember the square paper label on the front corner of SQ coin washers. It was gray and black and had the McGraw-Edison name with a side shot of good old Thomas Alva.

This post was last edited 07/12/2017 at 12:17
Post# 947845 , Reply# 8   7/12/2017 at 13:11 by lesto (Atlanta)        

We had a 1962 RCA Whirlpool window air conditioner when I was growing up. It was 12,500 BTU, ran on a 220 volt line and was robins egg blue inside and out. They also made Sears Coldspot air conditioners in those days.

Post# 947849 , Reply# 9   7/12/2017 at 14:03 by swestoyz (Waterloo, Iowa)        

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I know further research from actual sources is the best way to unpack this, but the Wiki entry below pretty much sums up Whirlpool's relation with RCA (note - Whirlpool did not buyout all of RCA. Think of RCA in 1955 as the General Motors of the electronics world).

To better compete with more diversified manufacturers, in 1955 Whirlpool acquired Seeger Refrigerator Company and RCA's air conditioner and cooking range lines. The company changed its name to Whirlpool-Seeger Corporation and began using the RCA-Whirlpool brand name.[6] Whirlpool acquired International Harvester Company's refrigeration plant in Evansville, IN in 1955.[11] In 1956, a 100-acre (0.40 km2) administrative center was opened in Benton Harbor, Michigan. In 1957, the RCA Whirlpool Miracle Kitchen was introduced with an estimated 15 million television viewers. The company changed its name back to Whirlpool Corporation.

In 1962, the company's research laboratories won a contract from NASA to develop the food and waste management system for Project Gemini.[12] In 1966, Whirlpool dropped the RCA name so the brand name became Whirlpool. The following year, the company introduced a 24-hour helpline. By 1978, annual revenues exceeded $2 billion.

This post was last edited 07/12/2017 at 14:43
Post# 947852 , Reply# 10   7/12/2017 at 14:41 by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

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Ben, Thanks for posting that snippet. I'm a big space/NASA buff and I hadn't known of the connection between Whirlpool and the Gemini missions. I found a bit more detail in the book Gemini - Steps to the Moon

Post# 947853 , Reply# 11   7/12/2017 at 14:48 by swestoyz (Waterloo, Iowa)        

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Isn't that interesting, Phil?  News to me, as well.

Post# 947854 , Reply# 12   7/12/2017 at 15:04 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

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Here's a snippet from the January 1957 Appliance Manufacturer magazine that Robert made available last month. This is from an an interview with Whirlpool-Seeger's treasurer, Mason Smith:

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Post# 947869 , Reply# 13   7/12/2017 at 17:02 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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A "space food" dispensing machine in 2001: A Space Odyssey is branded RCA Whirlpool.

Post# 947875 , Reply# 14   7/12/2017 at 17:59 by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        
A "space food" dispensing machine in 2001: A Space O

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That's funny as by the time this futuristic movie was released, RCA Whirlpool was already a thing of the past!

Post# 947880 , Reply# 15   7/12/2017 at 18:25 by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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I remember seeing many 23-33,000 BTU Wall A/C units branded "Thomas A. Edison"

" The “Yukon” series (photo five) are high capacity multi-room/commercial models."

Scroll down a bit on the link.

I love this guy's site. I remember mostly all of these A/Cs.

Post# 947900 , Reply# 16   7/12/2017 at 20:49 by wishwash (Illinois)        

During what time period were RCA appliances simply rebadged GE's?

Post# 947901 , Reply# 17   7/12/2017 at 20:53 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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House the parents built in 1964 had a Thomas A. Edison window unit in the living room.  I don't know what was the capacity.  It may have been a year or two newer than '64.

Post# 947912 , Reply# 18   7/12/2017 at 22:25 by swestoyz (Waterloo, Iowa)        
During what time period were RCA appliances simply rebadged

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You can thank the 80's and Jack Welch for RCA badged GE's.  This is why you see late 80's RCA TV's as being made by Thomson. 


Re-acquisition and break-up by General Electric

In December 1985 it was announced that General Electric would reacquire its former subsidiary for $6.28 billion in cash, or $66.50 per share of stock.[45] The sale was completed the next year, and GE proceeded to sell off most of the RCA assets. (The only RCA unit which GE retained was Government Services.) GE disposed of its 50% interest in then-RCA/Ariola International Records to its partner Bertelsmann, and the company was renamed BMG Music, for Bertelsmann Music Group. In 1987, RCA Global Communications Inc., a division with roots dating back to RCA's founding, was sold to the MCI Communications Corporation.[46] The rights to make RCA- and GE-branded televisions and other consumer electronics products were purchased in 1988 by the French company Thomson Consumer Electronics, in exchange for some of Thomson's medical businesses. (For information on the RCA brand after 1986, see RCA (trademark).) That same year, its semiconductor business (including the former RCA Solid State unit and Intersil) was bought by Harris Corporation.[47] In 1991, GE sold its share in RCA/Columbia to Sony Pictures which renamed the unit to "Columbia TriStar Home Video" (later further renamed to Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment).

Sarnoff Labs was put on a five-year plan whereby GE would fund all the labs' activities for the first year, then reduce its support to near zero after the fifth year. This required Sarnoff Labs to change its business model to become an industrial contract research facility. In 1988 it was transferred to SRI International (SRI) as the David Sarnoff Research Center, and subsequently renamed the Sarnoff Corporation. In January 2011 it was fully integrated into SRI.[48].

GE sold all of its radio station holdings to various owners, and the NBC Radio Network to Westwood One. In 2011, a controlling interest in the National Broadcasting Company, by this time part of the multimedia NBC Universal venture that included TV and cable, was sold by GE to Comcast, and in 2013 Comcast acquired the remaining interest.[49]


Post# 948180 , Reply# 19   7/14/2017 at 13:51 by appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
Let me get this straight........

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RCA NEVER Owned Whirlpool, they were just 20% stockholders and had two people on the Whirlpool board and Whirlpool used the RCA logo on appliance from 1956 through 1967....its nice to finally have the mystery solved.....

Post# 948189 , Reply# 20   7/14/2017 at 15:31 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

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That sounds like a good summary, Pat.

What we don't know is how long RCA kept their Whirlpool stock and board seats.

Post# 948193 , Reply# 21   7/14/2017 at 15:51 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Thats what I thought.

RCA owned some Whirlpool shares, like Ford owned some Philco shares, or was it a wholey owned Ford subsidiary, like GM Frigidaire?
I'm sure some were waiting for Zenith or Motorola to aquire part of an appliance maker.
Westinghouse and GE was in both markets on their own. Who was left? Norge was still under Borg Warner? Easy? Blackstone?
Kelvinator was under AMC until White Consolidated bought the name with Westinghouse.
Bendix was out of the appliance market by then. Did they merge with Philco?

Post# 948197 , Reply# 22   7/14/2017 at 16:10 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

I believe Philco bought Bendix Home Appliances from its then owner Aviation Corporation(AVCO) in 1957.

Post# 948303 , Reply# 23   7/15/2017 at 10:01 by appliguy (Oakton Va.)        
Vacerator WCI bought Kelvinator before Westinghouse

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WCI bought Kelvinator from American Motors in 1968 and Westinghouse in 1975...PAT COFFEY

Post# 948355 , Reply# 24   7/15/2017 at 16:41 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
July 18, 1955

See link below for RCA Whirlpool info.


Post# 948859 , Reply# 25   7/18/2017 at 21:11 by cornutt (Huntsville, AL USA)        

We had one of those RCA Whirlpool window A/C units too. I recall reading the manual and there were four or five models described, with different feature levels; the TOL model had oscillating vanes in the air outlet. In the early 1960s, RCA had its own retail stores and they marketed RCA Whirlpool appliances as well as televisions and radio/stereo sets. That air conditioner was about the only appliance my dad bought that didn't come from Sears. (In electronics, he was a Zenith guy.)

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