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A Qualcomm Quarter-Century


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1985: Qualcomm founded in the den of former UCSD professor Irwin Jacobs’ La Jolla home.

1986: Files for a patent on using code division multiple access (CDMA) for mobile communications.

1987: Qualcomm records $6.5 million in revenue and $208,000 in net income for first full year.

1988: Introduces first commercial product, OmniTRACS, a satellite tracking system used by long-haul trucking companies.

1989: Brings some 250 cell phone executives to San Diego to demonstrate its CDMA technology, which allows 10 times more calls in the same amount of radio spectrum as a competing cellular technology.

1991: IPO raises $73.6 million. Trades on the NASDAQ exchange under the ticker symbol QCOM.

1993: CDMA is adopted by the Telecommunications Industry Association as a North American digital standard for cell phones.

1997: Pays $18 million to rename the San Diego Chargers' home to Qualcomm Stadium.

1998: Spins off Leap Wireless, today the nation’s seventh largest wireless carrier, on the strength of its subsidiary, Cricket Wireless.

1999: Joins the exalted ranks of both the Fortune 500 and S&P 500.

1999: Stock price increases an exponential 2,619 percent in a 12-month period, as several dozen local investors become “Quillionaires.”

2004: Creates MediaFLO division, which uses Qualcomm technology to transmit video and data to mobile devices, enabling  users to watch live television on their cell phones.

2005: Irwin Jacobs retires as CEO, succeeded by Paul Jacobs, his third son.

2005: Becomes the world’s largest mobile chipset provider.

2010: San Diego’s largest company celebrates its 25th anniversary, with more than 16,000 employees worldwide and market capitalization of $60 billion.

5 Things You Didn't Know About Qualcomm

  • Qualcomm stands for Quality Communications.
  • Chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs boasts more patents than his father, founder Irwin Jacobs.
  • Famed actress Hedy Lamarr was co-inventor of the technology that led to Qualcomm’s commercial development of CDMA, the nation’s cellular communications standard.
  • Qualcomm’s first office was in a humble La Jolla strip mall, above a dry cleaner and pizza parlor, in Holiday Court off La Jolla Village Drive.
  • Hal and Jeff Jacobs, second and fourth sons of founder Irwin, are members of the Pelican Group, a San Diego production company that helped bankroll the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys.
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