The company was founded in 1931 as the Ro-Pat-In Corporation (ElectRo-Patent-Instruments) by Adolph Rickenbacher and George Beauchamp in order to sell electric Hawaiian guitars. These instruments had been designed by Beauchamp, assisted at the National String Instrument Corporation by Paul Barth and Harry Watson.
The five-star rank was first created on Dec. 14, 1944. Four Army general officers were promoted to general of the Army that month. Their names and dates of rank are: George C. Marshall, Dec. 16, 1944; Douglas MacArthur, Dec. 18, 1944; Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dec. 20, 1944; and Henry H. Arnold, Dec. 21, 1944.