Learjet was founded by inventor and entrepreneur William P. Lear (1902-78) in 1963, building on previous work he had done to turn an unsuccessful European jet fighter into a passenger jet. From then until his death in 1978, he built a highly successful series of business jets, so successful that “Learjet” became synonymous with “business jet” in popular discourse. Learjet went through a series of mergers and since 1990 is a part of Bombardier.
Among Lear’s other innovations was that he developed the 8-track cassette system of audio recording and playback, initially so that he could have audio tape players on his company’s jets. Besides being a popular home format, Lear’s audiotapes were the first that were used to put tape decks in cars.