Linkabit is the lesser-known first telecommunications firm by Qualcomm founders Irwin W. Jacobs, and Andrew J. Viterbi. Jacobs, Viterbi, and MIT alumnus Leonard Kleinrock founded Linkabit in October of 1968 at Kleinrock’s home near UCLA. Jacobs was at the time working at UC San Diego’s Department of Applied Electrophysics to help launch the brand new campus. Before 1970, NASA, DARPA, and other government business were the main source of profit for the firm. In 1973, Kleinrock left to work on the ARPANET, the precursor to today’s Internet. Jacobs then moved Linkabit to San Diego, one freeway exit down from UCSD on Sorrento Valley Road. In the six years between 1973-1979, the firm grew from $1 to $15 million in annual revenues. It was sold to M/A COM Technology Solutions in 1979. Linkabit (by itself, and as part of M/A COM after 1980) developed the micro-coded multi-satellite terminal, VSATS, the VideoCipher TV scrambler/descrambler, and the first commercial TDMA wireless phone. Today, Linkabit remains a division of L-3 Communications, a San Diego based company that supplies command and control, communications, surveillance and reconnaissance (C3ISR) systems and products for the U.S. government.

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