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Micro-Tel was an electronics company based in Hunt Valley, Maryland (US). It was established in 1962 by Dick Finke (later with Bill Richardson). The company specialized in high-end microwave receivers that were mainly intended for the US Goverment and the US Department of Defense.

The company was built on the foundation layed by Richard S. Finke in 1962 when he started his own company. Being educated in electronics during WWII, he had build up a strong reputation and began developing equipment for the DoD.

By 1972, he had teamed up with Bill Richardson to become one of the most important pioneers in the world of defence electronics. Together they founded Micro-Tel Inc. and settled down in Hunt Valley, Maryland (US) where in 1982 they built a brand new 30,000 square foot facility for 2.6 million US$; quite a lot of money in those days.
Micro-Tel assembly workshop in July 1980 with President Richard Finke and William Richardson looking over some equipment [10]

Micro-Tel became well known during the early 1980s for its range of microwave receivers, such as the PR-700 and the MSR-901. In 1989, Micro-Tel was taken over by M/A-COM, which in turn was taken over by Tyco International Ltd. in 1999. Under Tyco, Micro-Tel M/A-COM became the worlds largest producer of microwave components and equipment for the defence industry.

In 2008, after a series of complaints against Tyco International about fraude and bribery in Saudi Arabia, the M/A-COM SIGINT division was sold to Cobham and is currently known as Cobham Defense Electronics SIGINT. They are still based at the original address in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Micro-Tel equipment on this website
Micro-Tel PR-700 surveillance receiver
Micro-Tel MSR-901
The history of Micro-Tel starts with Richard S. Finke, a native of New York City, who was born on 31 March 1923, and was educated at schools in the Forest Hills area. When America got involved in WWII in 1941, Finke was 18 y.o. and studied Electrical Engineering at the New York University.

In 1943, at the age of 20, he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from New York University. Shortly afterwards he entered the Army where he became an officer in the Army Signals Corps. He spent most of his time during World War II in Europe. After the war, he started working for the US electronics company RCA Corporation and later for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

In the early 1950s, Finke moves to the Baltimore area where he works for Martin Marietta Corporation and the Bendix Communication Division, until he starts his own company in 1962. The company becomes known as Micro-Tel Corporation and specializes in microwave receivers for the US Department of Defence (DoD) and for the various domestic intelligence agencies.

In 1972, Bill Finke meets Bill Richardson and together they set up Micro-Tel Inc. As they want to expand the company, they move to Hunt Valley, Maryland (US). At the time, they were one of the first technology companies to settle down in Hunt Valley, which has since become one of the region's most important high-tech hotspots. Around this time, Micro-Tel is merged with Adams-Russell and becomes known as Adams-Russell, Micro-Tel Division. Plans are made for a new premises and they start rasing the necessary funding in the middle of the recession of 1980.

Artist's impression of the new Micro-Tel premises that is built in 1982 [11]

In 1982 a brand new 30,000 square foot facility is erected at Gilroy Road for a mere 2.6 million US$. During this time Micro-Tel becomes best known for their range of microwave components, measurement receivers and intercept equipment, with their typical faint mint colour. Richard (Dick) S. Finke sells his shares in the company and retires. In 1989 he moves from Towson to Oxford (US), where in on 28 November 1992, at the age of 69, he dies of a heart attack [1].

In 1989, Micro-Tel is sold to M/A-COM Inc., a Public Company from Burlington, MA (US), which is seeking for expansion. At that time, M/A-COM has well over a 1000 employees and is growing rapidly [2]. With the acquisition of Micro-Tel they hope to expand their business in microwave equipment and components for the defence industry. In early 1999, Micro-Tel is renamed to M/A-COM SIGINT Products and that same year they win a US$ 3.5 million contract to supply an unknown number of microwave receivers to the US Department of Defence (DoD) [3].

Shortly afterwards, also in 1999, M/A-COM is taken over by Tyco International Ltd., a Swiss-based electronics giant that has acquired many companies over the years, in order to increase their global market share. As a result, Tyco grows to become the worlds largest supplier [4] of advanced microwave electronics for the defence industry with over 3500 employees by 2006 [5].

In 2006, Tyco reports a sales turnover of 12.7 billion US$. Later that year however, the tide turns for Tyco when they are accused of accountancy fraude, tax fraude, and bribery [6]. Several complaints against the company are filed under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), mainly related to a Tyco subsidary in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a settlement of approx. 30 million US$.

Following the 2006 fraude case, M/A-COM is moved from Tyco International (Switzerland) to Tyco Electronics (Florida, US), but to no avail. Investigations have revealed that the fraude had continued even after the settlement in 2006. Finally, on 13 May 2008, M/A-COM, and hence SIGINT Products (who had nothing to do with the fraude) is sold for US$ 425 million to Cobham Defence Electronics, one of the largest defence contracters in the United States today [8].

The microwave products division (i.e. the former Micro-Tel) is a now a separate business unit of Cobham Defence Electronics, known as CDES SIGINT, and was still located at the old address in Hunt Valley, Maryland (US) in 2013 [9]. A quick search on Google Maps reveals that the building at 10713 Gilroy Road has hardly changed since 1982. Apparently it is currently abandonned (2015).

The building at Gilroy 10713 in 2015 (via Google Maps)

Names and owners
Year Owner Name
1962 Micro-Tel Micro-Tel
1978 Adams-Russell Micro-Tel
1981 Adams-Russell Adams-Russell, Micro-Tel Division
1989 M/A-COM Micro-Tel
1999 M/A-COM M/A-COM SIGINT Products
1999 Tyco Tyco SIGINT Products
2008 Cobham CDES SIGINT
  • Micro-Tel Corporation
    1406 Shoemaker Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21209, USA

  • Adams-Russel, Micro-Tel Division
    10713 Gilroy Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1336, USA
    Phone 301-771-0077

  • M/A-COM Sigint Products
    10713 Gilroy Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031-1336, USA
    Phone (410) 329-7915

  • Cobham Defence Electronics
    Business Unit CDES SIGINT
    10713 Gilroy Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031, USA
    Phone +1 (410) 329 7900
  1. The Baltimore Sun, Richard S. Finke, Electrical Engineer, Orbituary
    6 December 1992. Retrieved April 2013.

  2. Roger Hughlett, MicroTel, Hunt Valley grow in stature together
    Baltimore Business Journal, 5 November 1999. Retrieved April 2013.

  3. Telecompaper, M/A-COM, SIGINT Products winds Microwave Receiver Deal
    Retrieved April 2013.

  4. Tyco Electronics, RF & Microwave Product Solutions
    Products brochure pp. 107, June 2006. Retrieved April 2013.

  5. Tyco Electronics, M/A-COM Tyco Electronics, An overview
    29 December 2006. Retrieved April 2013.

  6. Securities and Exchange Commission, Complaints against Tyco International Ltd (Switzerland)
    24 September 2012. Retrieved April 2013.

  7. FCPA Professor, In Depth On The Tyco Enforcement Action
    26 September 2012. Retrieved April 2013.

  8. Cobham News, Cobham PLC acquires M/A-COM from Tyco
    13 May 2008. Retrieved April 2013.

  9. Cobham website, Cobham Defence Electronics - Hunt Valley
    Retrieved April 2013.

  10. J. Pat Carter, Photograph of Micro-Tel factory
    21 July 1980. Published in the Evening Sun (Baltimore, US).
    Crypto Museum #301707.

  11. Unknown artist, Artist's impression of new Micro-Tel building in Hunt Valley
    McCormick Properties Inc. Design Builders. Gaudreau Inc. Architects Planners Engineers.
    24 September 1982. Published in the Evening Sun (Baltimore, US).
    Crypto Museum #301708.
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