In 2014, a nonprofit organization was formed to collect, preserve, and interpret the legacy of Arthur Collins and the Cedar Rapids-based radio communications business he founded in 1933. The nonprofit, known as the Arthur A. Collins Legacy Association (AACLA), hired Wired Production Group as the video production company to assist in production of the documentary series to showcase Arthur Collins and his legacy in connection to the Apollo space mission.

This award-winning documentary series has been screened across the world. Wired Production Group is proud to be a part of this documentary in association with Busbee Communications. 

Movie posters for all three of The Collins Story documentaries

The History of Collins Radio Company

Collins began his radio communications career at the young age of 15. He maintained radio communication with the 1925 MacMillan expedition using equipment that he had designed and built, and pioneering techniques he had devised with the ship’s radio operator. At the age of 25, the entreprenuer started Collins Radio Company, and with 150 employees, began building aircraft radios in a small factory space in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Over the next four decades, Collins built a Fortune 500 Company, founded on his knowledge and skills in radio communications technology. 

Collins Radio Company has become a global organization now known as Collins Aerospace. It provides exemplary innovation in avionics, military intelligence and communications, aerospace technologies, aircraft interiors, telecommunication, and computer technologies. Collins Aerospace operates in multiple industries, including commercial aviation, business aviation, military and defense, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, space, airports, and air traffic management. 

Collins passed away in 1987. He had no idea that his business would grow to 80,000+ employees, a 20,000+ engineering workforce, over 250 sites globally, and more than $26 billion in sales. The organization continues his legacy in making incredible advances in communication technology. 

A Dedication to Arthur Collins: The Collins Story Documentary Series

Part of the AACLA’s is to inspire future generations through interpreting the work of Arthur Collins. Organization leaders know that an effective, long-lasting way to share the story of Collins would be through film. From this idea, a documentary initiative, The Collins Story, was born. For the past several years, Wired Production Group and AACLA have worked on a trilogy of films, “Connecting the Moon to the Earth.”

Collins played a major role in producing communication and other technologies for the US Space Program from Projects Mercury through Apollo and beyond. Realizing the amount of information was too great to share in a single documentary, it was decided that three separate stories would be told. Throughout the film production process, our Sr. Editor and Videographer at Wired Production Group, Eric Freese, collaborated with Busbee Communications and the AACLA documentary team to interview Collins retirees and family friends, pore through a treasure trove of archival documents, photos, and footage, develop visual themes, assemble, edit, score, and premiere the three-part documentary series. Hear more from Annette Busbee with Busbee Communications about the work on this project with Wired Production Group.

Moon Talk,” the first episode tells about the engineers and the groundbreaking technologies they developed during the early part of the Apollo program. 

Episode 2, “Live from the Moon,” takes a close look at Apollo missions 8 through 17, including how Collins’ reliability was essential in ensuring the astronauts’ safety during Apollo 11’s moon landing and the tense moments of Apollo 13. 

Steps To The Moon,” the third film (but chronologically the first chapter), tells the story of young Arthur Collins, and how he progressed from a radio station in his parent’s attic to founding a company that became a leader in communications technology, and a major contributor to the American space program.

With dozens of public screenings presented in museums and theaters, appearances in film festivals (with a fair amount of awards!), and many DVDs and on-demand viewings sold, these films have been experienced by thousands across the globe. The stories of Collins employees and Arthur Collins’ friends and family are now a permanent part of aerospace communications engineering history.

It was an honor to collaborate with Busbee Communications and the AACLA on the production of this award-winning documentary series. Wired Production Group is incredibly proud to share the deep, complex history of the Collins Radio Company, Arthur Collins’ legacy, and the work of the people, who were so instrumental in the success of the company, communications technology, and the US space program. 

Being a fan of historical documentaries, not to mention being a tech nerd, assembling these films didn’t feel like work. I learned so much through all of the interviews, archival film, and technical documents. Just wait until you see the new internet documentary!

Eric Dean Freese

Sr. Editor & Videographer, Wired Production Group

Next with AACLA, we’ll take you back to November 1977 in Palo Alto, California, to learn how Collins Radio technology was there for the birth of the Internet!