Riding the Wave of Innovation Through the Century

The city of Berkeley, CA, has a history of innovation going back more than 100 years, and our IDFACTORS building on 5th Street reflects this fact. In May 1917, a month after the United States declared war on Germany, a federal task force known as the Aircraft Production Board summoned the nation’s two top engine designers, Jesse G. Vincent (of the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit) and Elbert J. Hall (of the Hall-Scott Motor Co. in Berkeley), to Washington, D.C. They were given the task of designing – as rapidly as possible – an aircraft engine that would rival if not surpass those of Great BritainFrance, and Germany.

Vincent and Hall met on May 29, 1917, at the Willard Hotel in Washington.After just five days, these two experts left the Willard with a completed design for a new engine. In July 1917, an eight-cylinder prototype assembled by Packard’s Detroit plant arrived in Washington for testing, and in August, the 12-cylinder version – which became known as the Liberty – was tested and approved.

Hall’s company in Berkeley was considered too small to receive a production order, but manufacturing by multiple factories was facilitated by the engine’s modular design. Hall’s company continued to build parts for and test the Liberty. Hall also designed new engines such as the Invader, which later powered tanks in World War II.

Today, one of the factory site where Hall designed engines is occupied by IDFACTORS.  It is amazing to stand in the our offices and see the same heavy wood beams and overhead rails for the crane that moved the engines through the production line.  We at IDFACTORS are proud to occupy this historic space.  While many innovators have come and gone, there remains a strong spirit of purpose at 5th and Bancroft.

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