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Following is a scan of a flyer distributed at one of the reunions (perhaps the 50th anniversary?)


Our story is in six parts: our growth from ERCO and our merging with ACF, GPE, the Singer Corporation-Link, and most recently with CAE Industries Ltd.


The Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) was incorporated in 1930 under the laws of the District of Columbia and later in 1936 reincorporated under the laws of the State of Maryland. Henry Berliner, a pioneer in aviation established ERCO. The corporation was formed to develop and perfect new tools and component parts. The first machine developed was the "Metal Flanging Machine." At that time, there were no buyers for the machine patents. ERCO undertook the manufacture and sale. This highly successful venture led to similar success in the design and production of other equipment including the Propeller Profiling Machine and the Automatic Punching and Riveting Machine. Prior to World War II, ERCO designed and produced the famous Ercoupe-a single engine, two-place, low wing airplane of metal construction. During World War II, the firm began producing airborne equipment such as turrets, propellers, and radar antennae. After World War II, ERCO reached a peak production of 34 Ercoupes per day. A total of 4500 planes was produced in 1946. ACF

In 1949, ERCO entered the electronics field by supplying flight simulators upon the encouragement of the Special Devices Center a branch of the Office of Naval Research. In 1954, ERCO was purchased by ACF Industries, Inc. and the name was changed to ERCO Division, ACF Industries Inc.

ACF Industries Inc. was formed in 1899 through the consolidation of 13 railroad equipment and manufacturers. Through a deliberate program of diversification, the firm expanded its activities until it consisted of several operating divisions making such products as railroad cars, electronics equipment, auto parts, nuclear equipment, pressure vessels, bearings and gears. The firm's atomic work began in 1950 when ACF undertook classified projects for the Atomic Energy Commission. On April 1, 1957, ERCO Division merged with another division of ACF — the Nuclear Energy Products Division, and became known as Nuclear Products — ERCO Division. The Riverdale, Maryland plant served as the Nuclear Products Division Headquarters. GPE

In 1965, GPE purchased the operations of the Riverdale plant of the Electronics Division of ACF Industries, Inc. The Company moved from Riverdale in Prince Georges County in 1967 to a new building in Montgomery Industrial Park in Silver Spring. GPE was a major manufacturer and distributor of technologically advanced systems and equipment for government, military and space programs, control and metering devices for industrial and consumer goods, and products for the educational field. In 1968 GPE accepted the offer from The Singer Company and the division was named Simulation Products Division.


Singer had come a long way from its founding as a sewing machine manufacturer by Isaac Merritt Singer in 1851. The merger afforded Singer an opportunity to pick up a fully developed high technology division

The division was merged and became part of the Link Division to continue to emphasize the quality and worldwide recognition of Link simulators.


The history of the Link Division of the Singer Company began in 1929 as Link Aeronautical Corporation. That's when Edwin A. Link perfected the "Blue Box " his mechanical pilot trainer. It was invented in the basement of his father's piano and organ company in Binghamton, New York. The trainer's connection is strongly associated with thousands of pilots– military and later civilian – who learned to fly. Link took his first flying lesson in 1920. He paid $50 for an hour of loops and spins without being able to touch the controls. He did learn to fly and enjoyed it enough to eventually leave his father's factory to devote full time to flying. Link purchased what is believed to have been the first aircraft produced by a new company called Cessna. By 1927, he realize J he needed more practice than he could afford in the plane. Working back at the piano factory, Link build a stubby wooden fuselage and mounted it on a fulcrum. An organ bellows and a motor provided air pressure to allow the cockpit t o pitch and roll as the pilot "flew" the controls. The instructor could sit at a little table behind the trainer and send messages to the pilot over a headset. Link started operating a flying school after hours at the piano and organ factory. Most of the first sales of the Blue Box were not made to flying schools, but amusement rides. The Depression took away much of the interest in flying which was considered impractical.

The Depression, together with the advent of the talking movies, killed off the player piano and the factory in Binghamton. Link became a full time flying instructor, using his new device first at Endicott airport, and when that field closed, in Cortland. He became manager of that airport, sponsored air shows and invented an illuminated aerial sign for commercial advertising. His school offered complete instruction, on the ground in the trainer, and then in a plane for less than $125, compared with other schools charging about $500. By 1931 he had 100 students. It was in 1934 that Link saw his product finally accepted. On a foggy day — weather considered unsuitable for flying — Link piloted his plane to a meeting with the U.S. Army Air Corps to discuss problems on flying the mail in bad weather. Link explained he had learned instrumentation flying in his Blue Box. The Army was impressed and bough six trainers. LJnk developed a training device for Great Britain's crew. The product was the Link Celestial Trainer. The student navigators and later student bombardiers sat in a bomber fuselage inside a silo-shaped building beneath a some with nearly 400 moving "stars." The start of World War II brought orders for about 10,000 of the Blue Box pilot trainers, and an estimated half-million military pilots took some of their first flights rooted to the ground. The phrase "Link-time" became common among military pilots. The Binghamton plants were turning out trainers at the rate of one every 45 minutes. After the war, there was a brief decline, but the company's fortunes took off again in the 1950's with new military and civilian work. This next generation of simulators was much more sophisticated, with analog computers simulating the latest radio and navigation equipment.

President and board chairman of Link Aviation, Inc., until its merger with General Precision Equipment Corporation (GPE) in 1954, Ed Link served as a director and president of that corporation which merged in 1968 with the Singer Company. In 1959, he retired, as president to begin an entirely new career in underwater archeology and research. Ed Link died in 1981. In January of 1981, The Singer company announced a split in the division. Forming Link Simulation Systems Division in Silver Spring and the Link Flight Simulation Division with operations in Sunnyvale, CA; Houston, TX; Lancing, England; and Binghamton, NY. Link Flight's charter was to expand the company's business in the aircraft and spacecraft industries.


Link Simulation Systems Division in Silver Spring Maryland was chartered to promote growth in the fields of nuclear and fossil fuel, power plant simulation, industrial process plant simulation, tactical simulation, and for finding new opportunities in other simulation areas. In 1984, The Singer Company acquired Omnidata, a capable developer of equipment and associated computer software for training personnel in process control and fossil fuel operations. Omnidata was formed in 1970. Omnidata became the Cherry Hill Operation of Link SSD increasing its work force to more than 2,000.

In 1988, Link Simulation Systems was purchased from the Singer Company by the Canadian firm CAE Industries, Ltd. Then known as Link Tactical Simulation, Silver Spring continued its charter to provide training expertise, encompassing naval tactical and operation systems, command and control systems and maintenance training.

In 1990 Link Tactical Simulation Division was consolidated into Link Flight Simulation Division with other Link Divisions which are today the CAE-Link Corporation. Renamed the Link Tactical Operation with a work force of 500 Silver Spring continued to provide all levels of training, from basic to advanced, for various types of sonar systems, including the AN/SQQ89 Underwater Sensor System and numerous submarine combat system team trainers and command and control trainers for the U.S. and international navies. The Silver Spring Operation was the technology leader in generic and system-specific simulators for every aspect of naval systems training, was an integral part of CAE-Link produces command and control, single and multi-ship tactics, operator and team procedures, and maintenance training devices for surface ships, submarines and airborne warfare. CAE-Link's total training capability features top-rated instructional system development, turn-key aircrew training system operation and management, expert academic and simulator instruction and the industry's most extensive worldwide support network; modification and integration, repair and spare services, logistics and maintenance, and hardware/software support Centers. CAE-Link headquartered in the birth place of flight simulation Binghamton New York - and had operations in Silver Spring Maryland; Houston and Dallas, Texas. The company employed about 5,000 employees, more than half of whom are engineers.

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This file last modified on May 14, 2014