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Born in Basel, Switzerland as Adolf Rickenbacher. He emigrated in 1891 to the United States with older relatives after his parents died, settling in Wisconsin and later southern California. He Anglicized both his own name, and that of his company, to Rickenbacker to capitalize on the popularity of his distant cousin, America's top Flying Ace Eddie Rickenbacker.
Starting in the late 1920s, his Rickenbacher Manufacturing Company made metal bodies for the National String Instrument Corporation. Through this connection, he met George Beauchamp and Paul Barth, and in 1931 they founded the Ro-Pat-In Company. In 1932 they produced the first cast aluminium versions of the lap steel guitar. Two years later the company was renamed the Electro String Instrument Corporation. By the time production ceased in 1939, about 2,700 Frying Pan guitars had been produced. Rickenbacker, not convinced of the guitar business's potential, continued manufacturing until 1953, when he sold his company to Francis Cary Hall, a forerunner of the Southern California electric guitar boom.
Adolph Rickenbacker died from cancer in Orange County, California in 1976 at the age of 89.
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