Carl L. Norden


When Sperry Gyroscope Company employed Carl Norden; around 1910, he carried this identification card. The photo on the front of the card (above) shows Mr. Norden at age 38.

Carl Lukas Norden was born April 23, 1880 in Indonesia, the third of five children. Following the death of his father in 1885, his family moved to Holland, then Dresden. In 1896 he began a three-year apprenticeship in a Swiss machine shop, and entered the world-famous Zurich Federal Polytechnic School. He graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1904 and emigrated to the United States.

FIRST AUTOPILOT Carl L. Norden in 1930, shown here next to FB-1, in an early attempt to develop a guided missile. The guidance system for the aircraft can be seen in the open hatchway. This guidance system was the forerunner of the autopilot used in conjunction with the Norden bombsight in World War II.

In the U.S., Norden started working with the Sperry Gyroscope Company on their marine stabilizer contracts until 1917. In 1921, he began the development of an instrument which could drop bombs from an aircraft, the famed Norden Bombsight. In 1923, Norden and Theodore H. Barth became business partners. Norden worked on the bombsight in Zurich and Barth assembled the parts in the U.S.

In 1928, they incorporated their company as Carl L. Norden, Inc. with an order for two precision bombsights.

FIRST HOME Carl Norden Inc. got its start in this building on 80 Lafayette Street, New York City. The company occupied one floor of the building. Carl L. Norden and Theodore H. Barth produced bombsights here. In 1943-46 The Norden Laboratories Corp. moved to Varrick St. in New York City.

The Norden Company planned to produce 800 bombsights a month, but the demand increased to 2000 a month in 1943. By the end of the World War II, more than 43,000 bombsights were built, 25,000 by Norden, at a cost of $10,000 each. Neither man got rich from this innovation as they sold the rights to the bombsight to the government for $1.

Carl Norden was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1994 – 29 years after his passing.

Norden was proud that the bombsight could be used for strategically striking military targets while minimizing collateral damage to surrounding civilian populations and structures. Carl Norden returned to Switzerland shortly after World War II and died there in 1965.




Mid-1960s manufacturing floor
From 1961 to 2013, thousands of employees passed through the doors of Norden in Norwalk. Their contributions to national security, the men and women in uniform, their sacrifices, work ethic, pride for their work in helping to sustain the defense base of Connecticut and the country, cannot be erased. The technology that was developed and manufactured in Norwalk was beyond state of the art and was unrivaled. Innovation and technological breakthroughs were an every day occurrence. The Norden facility will house other tenants, but Norden’s long lasting heritage of its people and technology will live on at Norden Park on Norden Place.
Norden Park, Norwalk, CT