Fluke Corporation was founded in Washington state by John Fluke on October 7, 1953 as the John Fluke Manufacturing Company, Inc., producing electrical metering equipment. In certain instrumentation categories, Fluke was a strong competitor to U.S instrumentation leader Hewlett-Packard, and in the category of calibration equipment, Fluke was the industry leader. By the end of the decade, the total market for test and measurement equipment had grown to $6 billion, and Fluke's share was a $150 million annually by the end of the 1970s. Industry sales continued to increase in the 1980s. Between 1975 and 1985, Fluke's sales rose at an annual average of nearly 20 percent, but with the late 1980s contraction in U.S. defense spending due to a reduction in United States-Russia tension, Fluke's sales to the government and to aerospace companies declined. The sale of Fluke's line of large bench and rack mounted equipment such as digital voltmeters and signal scanners weakened due to the increased use of PC controlled measurement and sensing modules embedded with the computer. However, in the arena of very portable hand held instruments for signal analysis and voltage measurement, Fluke was a leader. Sales in this category remained strong.


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