Cubic Company History Timeline

(600 Jobs)

Founded in 1951 by Walter J. Zable, Cubic began as a small electronics company operating from a modest San Diego storefront.

Cubic was founded in 1951 by Walter J. Zable, a retired professional football player and professional engineer.

Founded and headquartered in San Diego, CA since 1951, Cubic is the parent company of three major business segments.


From there, the company moved into the freight and passenger elevator business by acquiring United States Elevator Corporation in 1969 and into the production of automatic fare collections systems three years later.

Accordingly, in 1969 Zable acquired United States Elevator Corporation, then a $2-million-in-sales maker of freight and passenger elevators.


Zable demonstrated his commitment with the 1972 purchase of Los Angeles-based Western Data Products, Inc., a floundering maker of rail transit fare collections systems that was staffed by former Litton Industries engineers.

The company was heavily involved in supplying military training systems to the armed forces, was a manufacturer of freight and passenger elevators, and by 1972 was a manufacturer of the machines that opened gates when coins were dropped into a box or encoded cards were inserted into a slot.


Cubic was awarded the final $53 million contract for Washington, D.C.'s Metro mass transit system in 1975 and three years later won the contract to supply Atlanta, Georgia's rapid rail system.


The biggest plunge occurred in 1986 when profits plummeted from $14.7 million to a paltry $1.1 million, as the company suffered from dismal performances by each of its three major business segments.


Zable also steered the company into other markets for automatic fare collection systems, such as the August 1987 purchase of New York-based Automatic Toll Systems, a leading, $20-million-in-sales manufacturer of toll road automatic coin collection equipment.

Shortly thereafter, in August 1987, Cubic was awarded a $100 million contract for five new combat jet training systems for the Navy, the type seen in the film "Top Gun," designed to plot and track up to 36 aircraft in mock aerial dogfights.


In 1990, Walter and Betty Zable donated $10 million to the College of William & Mary for scholarships, graduate student aid and other programs.


By adding a computer control, it grew from the 23rd largest elevator company to #3 before Cubic sold it to Thyssen in 1993.

Cubic exited the elevator manufacturing business in 1993, leaving it with its defense electronics and automatic fare collection businesses as the primary money earners for the company.


The following month, October 1996, Cubic was awarded a $27.9 million contract to design and install automatic fare collection equipment in Shanghai, China.


The Walter J. & Betty C. Zable Foundation is a private foundation founded in 1997.


A major Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System 2000 production contract is awarded.Cubic Automatic Revenue Collection Group is renamed Cubic Transportation Systems.


In June of 2005 the City of San Diego recognized the Zable contributions to the community and technology by declaring “Walter J. Zable Day” in his honor.


Zable died in June 2012 at the age of 97 due to natural causes.

Cubic’s CEO Walter J. Zable passes at age 97 as the world’s oldest CEO.Cubic’s fare collection systems in London carries 4.4 million passengers to the 2012 Olympic Games, setting a public transportation record for most passengers travelled.

Upon his passing, in 2012 the United States Congress lowered the Capital flag to half mass and Governor Jerry Brown declared “Walter J. Zable Day” in the state of California.


© 2021 Walter J. & Betty C. Zable Foundation.

Company Founded
San Diego, CA
Company Headquarter
Walter Zable
Company Founders

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