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Litton Industries and Western Atlas Corp

In Litton Industries downsizing and trimming out of unnecessary divisions in its company, it formed Western Atlas by merging its subsidiary Western Geophysical with Dresser Atlas in 1987. For seven years, the two companies Litton and Dresser operated Western Atlas as a joint company until they spun it off as a publicly traded company in 1994. Western Atlas, in essence, was entirely the commercial side of Litton Industries, while Litton Industries retained all the military contracting business.

At this point, Western Atlas was headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. It was a major global supplier of oilfield information services and industrial automation systems. Though Western Atlas is primarily known today for its oilfield services operations, they were also among the first companies to develop and sell bar coding technology and to utilize mobile computing systems and wireless data communications networks. These technologies were logical spinoffs from their legacy with Litton Industries, which started with radio technology.

One of the large contracts acquired by an independent Western Atlas was the provision of hand-held barcoding services to the United States Government for a variety of inventory control purposes.

In 1997, Western Atlas also acquired Norand Corporation, another developer of mobile computer systems and wireless data communications. The merger gave Western Atlas supremacy in automated data collections and mobile computing. Inventory tracking for a wide variety of industries became a focus of the division of Western Atlas that was affected by this acquisition.

Western Atlas did very well financially as an independent company, repeatedly meeting and exceeding its goals for net revenues and earnings. But they were looking to trim down even further. By 1997, they szpun off their industrial automation operations ? the part with the bar-code technology ? to make Western Atlas a pure oilfield services company headquartered in Houston. Their services included seismic data to locate oil fields and logging and operating services for oil fields that had already been found.

Only a year later, in 1998, the remaining oil fields services portion of Western Atlas merged with Baker Hughes, to form Baker Atlas, a full-service world-wide oil fields services company providing a full range of oil fields services to American and international companies.

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