AO Sunglasses is the last remaining part of the original American Optical Company. In 1826 American Optical starts operations.
William Beecher, a Connecticut farm boy, moved to Southbridge, MA and learned the jeweler’s trade.
He encounters a pair of crudely made imported spectacles and thought to himself “I can make these better”.
As a result Beecher goes to work to improve the frames.
He soon experienced and quickly decided to build his own business. The new business is the American Optical Company.
The company grows rapidly and as a result opened an office in London.
By now the plant was employing more than 2,000 people resulting in a payroll of over $ 1,000,000.!
During World War I the American Optical company provides optical support for U.S. and Allied Forces in Europe.
American Optical creates self-contained eyeglass facilities which provide support for troops in Europe.
Each unit is well stocked with frames, lenses, refractive equipment and machines for fulfilling prescriptions and sunglasses.
When World War II began American Optical is once again called upon to provide new optical products like bomb sights which are developed in their research laboratories.
AO American Optical developed gun sights for aircraft, bomb sights for bombers, aviation goggles, sunglasses and precision optical devices for the military.
Over the war years AO provided 10 million google frames, 5 million pairs of sunglasses and more than 6.5 millions prescription lenses.
The lenses are ground, polished and delivered to members of the Allied Forces.
In 1958 AO American Optical introduced their famous Flight Goggle 58.
Customers know these as Original Pilot Sunglasses.
In the postwar years American Optical supplied them to the U.S. military pilots and NASA Astronauts.
The pilots liked the sunglasses which had maximum uv protection and optical performance.
Over the years American Optical made and sold all kinds of optical frames and lenses for all sorts of specialized uses.
American Optical became the target of a buyer who felt the company would yield more profit if broken up and sold.
As a result of this process the formation of AO sunglasses occurred.
AO Eyewear is now the present manufacturer of AO Original Pilot and General Flight Gear sunglasses.
After moving production to China AO had a lot of problems with off-shore manufacturing.
As a result AO Eyewear has moved production back to the US resulting in improved quality and more Customer loyalty.