1932: Howard Hughes formed Hughes Aircraft Company as a division of Hughes Tool Company.
1948: Hughes formed the Aerospace Group within the company, divided into:
Hughes Space and Communications Group
Hughes Space Systems Division
1951: Hughes Aircraft opened missile plant in Tucson, Arizona.
1953: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) was formed, and Hughes Aircraft reformed as a subsidiary of the foundation. The Internal Revenue Service unsuccessfully challenged its “charitable” status which made it tax-exempt.
1955: Hughes formed its helicopter division, Aircraft Division.
1960: The first laser was produced at Hughes Research Laboratories, by Theodore Maiman.
1961: Hughes Research Laboratories completed their move to Malibu, California.
1972: Hughes sold the tool division of Hughes Tool Company. His remaining interests were transferred to the newly formed holding company, the Summa Corporation. This included Toolco Aircraft and Hughes’ property and other businesses.
1976: Toolco Aircraft became Hughes Helicopters.
1976: Howard Hughes died at the age of 70, leaving no will.
1984: The Summa Corporation sold Hughes Helicopters to McDonnell Douglas for $500 million; it was soon renamed McDonnell Douglas Helicopters.
1984: The Delaware Court of Chancery appointed eight trustees to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; they decided to sell Hughes Aircraft.
1985: The HHMI sold Hughes Aircraft to General Motors for $5.2 billion. This was merged with GM’s Delco Electronics to form Hughes Electronics Corporation. This group then consisted of:
Delco Electronics Corporation
Hughes Aircraft Company
1987: Hughes Aircraft Company acquired M/A-COM Telecommunications, to form Hughes Network Systems.
1994: Hughes Electronics introduced DirecTV.
1995: Hughes Space and Communications Company became the world’s biggest supplier of commercial satellites.
1995: Hughes Electronics acquired Magnavox Electronic Systems from the Carlyle Group.
1995: Hughes Aircraft acquired CAE-Link; CAE-Link was part of the original company founded by Edwin Link, inventor of the flight simulator.
1996: Hughes Electronics and PanAmSat agreed to merge their fixed satellite services into a new publicly held company, also called PanAmSat with Hughes Electronics as majority shareholder.
1997: GM transferred Delco Electronics from Hughes Electronics to its Delphi Automotive Systems. Delphi became independent in 1999.
1997: The aerospace and defense operations of Hughes Electronics (Hughes Aircraft) merged with Raytheon; Raytheon also acquired one half of the Hughes Research Laboratories.
2000: Hughes Space and Communications Company remained independent until 2000, when it was purchased by Boeing and became Boeing Satellite Development Center. Boeing purchased one third of the HRL Laboratories, LLC which was then co-owned by Boeing, GM and Raytheon.
2003: The remaining parts of Hughes Electronics: DirecTV, DirecTV Latin America, PanAmSat and Hughes Network Systems were purchased by NewsCorp and renamed The DirecTV Group.
2003: Newscorp sold PanAmSat to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) in August 2004.
2004: Director Martin Scorsese used the Hughes Aircraft stage in Playa Vista to film the motion-capture sequences in the film The Aviator.
2004: SkyTerra Communications, Inc. completed its purchase of 100% controlling interest in Hughes Network Systems from the DirecTV Group in January 2006.