By 1912, there were 34 stores in the Rocky Mountain States. In 1913, he moved the company to the Kearns Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. The company was incorporated under the new name, J. C. Penney Company. In 1916, he began to expand the chain east of the Mississippi and during the 1920s, the Penney stores expanded nationwide, with 120 stores in 1920 (mostly still in the west) By 1924, Penneys' reported income of more than $1 million annually. The number of stores reached 1,400 by 1929. The large income allowed Penney to be heavily involved in many philanthropic causes during the 1920s. By 1921 Penney had a home (Belle Isle) on Biscayne Bay in Miami. Penney and partner Ralph W. Gwinn had invested heavily in Florida real estate including 120000 acre in Clay County. Some of this land became Penney Farms. This was also the start of Foremost Dairy Products Inc. Penney later recruited Paul E. Reinhold to run the dairy. Most of this work was halted when the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression left Penney in financial ruin.
In 1898, James Cash Penney began working for a small chain of stores in the western United States called the Golden Rule stores. In 1902, owners Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan, impressed by his work ethic and salesmanship, offered him one-third partnership in a new store he would open. Penney invested $2,000 and moved to Kemmerer, Wyoming, to open a store there. He participated in opening two more stores, and when Callahan and Johnson dissolved their partnership in 1907 he purchased full interest in all three stores.
After the 1929 stock crash, Penney lost virtually all his personal wealth and borrowed against his life insurance policies to help the company meet its payroll. The financial setbacks took a toll on his health. Penney checked himself into the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he was treated. After hearing the hymn "God Will Take Care of You" (written by Civilla Durfee Martin) being sung at a service in the hospital's chapel, Penney became a born-again Christian. Even after relinquishing daily operating management of the company, Penney continued his active involvement in managing the company and its stores. In 1940, during a visit to a store in Des Moines, Iowa, he trained a young Sam Walton on how to wrap packages with a minimal amount of paper and ribbon. He remained as chairman of the board until 1946, and after that as honorary chairman until his death in 1971. Until the end of his life, he continued to go to his offices.
The name Penney dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It was derived from the Old English "Penig," denoting a coin (cognate with German "Pfennig"). The penny was the only unit of coinage in England until the early 14th century, and as such was a coin of considerable value.
J. C. Penney also constructed a store in Fairbanks, which opened in 1966. It was located in Alaska's first urban renewal district. Several blocks of downtown Fairbanks, which previously consisted mostly of log cabins, including a former red-light district, were cleared, and a block of Sixth Avenue was vacated. In its place were constructed large office and commercial buildings, with the Penney store and a state office and courthouse building (the latter building currently home to the UAF Community and Technical College) the largest. Safeway and Woolworth's also built stores in this area at around the same time. The Fairbanks store, particularly its second floor, served as a refuge during another natural disaster, the 1967 flood.
James Cash Penney started his first retail store in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming. By 1925, J.C. Penney had 674 stores generating sales of $91 million. In 1962 J.C. Penney bought Wisconsin based General Merchandise Company with discount stores and a mail-order operation. Thus J.C. Penney entered the mail order catalogue business. J.C. Penney, a latecomer in catalogue operations, was different from many of its competitors because it had a large retail store base before launching into the mail-order business. The first J.C. Penney catalog was mailed the next year in 1963. Customers could order from the catalog inside J.C. Penney stores in eight states. The J.C. Penney Catalog Distribution Center was located in Milwaukee.
Penney (also spelled Penny) is a common surname of British origin.
In 1935, Penney submitted his final thesis and obtained a D.Sc. in Mathematical Physics from the University of Cambridge; his thesis contained the fundamental work in the applications of quantum mechanics to the physics of crystals. In 1936, he was elected to the Stokes studentship at Pembroke College, Cambridge, but in the same year he returned to London and was appointed Reader in Mathematics at Imperial College London, a post he held from 1936 to 1945. As a recognized prodigy at Imperial College he was set for a distinguished academic career until World War II intervened.
William George "Bill" Penney was born in Gibraltar on 24 June 1909. His father, William A. Penney, was a sergeant-major in the British Army's Ordnance Corps who was then serving overseas. His mother was Blanche Evelyn Johnson. Young William was raised in Sheerness, Kent, and was educated at Sheerness Technical School for Boys from 1924 to 1926, where he displayed a talent for science. He then attended the local technical school in Colchester, the Gilberd School, where he completed his technical studies.
Penney's notable scientific contributions included the mathematics for complex wave dynamics, both in shock and gravity waves, proposing optimization problems and solutions in hydrodynamics (which plays a major role in materials science and metallurgy.) During his later years, Penney lectured in mathematics and physics, and was tenured as the Rector of the Imperial College London until his death.
During his lifetime William Penney was made a Commonwealth Fund Fellow at University of Wisconsin–Madison (1932); Fellow of the Royal Society (1946); Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1970). Among the honours he received was the Rumford Medal by the Royal Society (1966). He was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath in 1966. For services to the United States, he was one of the first recipients of the United States Medal of Freedom (with Silver Palm), awarded by President Harry S. Truman. For his services to Britain he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE; 1946); raised to Knight Commander of the order (KBE; 1952); made a life peer, taking the title Baron Penney, of East Hendred in the Royal County of Berkshire (7 July 1967); awarded the Order of Merit (OM; 1969). He served on the board of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (from 1954 to 1967) and became its Chairman (1962–1967). In 1974 he chaired a committee assessing the need for an expert group to be set up to advise and warn the engineering profession on matters of structural safety, which reported positively, and he served as the first chairman of the UK's Standing Committee on Structural Safety from 1976 to 1982.
Then he joined Tube Alloys the secret nuclear weapon directorate, and shortly before D-Day in 1944, Penney was made head of the British delegation to the Manhattan Project, when a large team of British scientists joined the American atomic bomb project. Penney and others went to the Los Alamos Laboratory.
In May 1947, Penney was officially named to head the HER project. The following month Penney began assembling teams of scientists and engineers to work on the new technologies that had to be developed. In June 1947, Penney gathered his fledgling team in the library at the Royal Arsenal and gave a two-hour talk on the principles of the atomic bomb. Centred at Fort Halstead, the work proceeded on schedule. In 1950, the first bomb was expected to be ready within two years and would require a test.
Lord Penney was Rector of Imperial College London from 1967 to 1973. The college built and named the William Penney Laboratory in his honour in 1987
In the mid 1950s Britain felt the need to quickly develop megaton class weapons because it seemed that atmospheric testing could soon be outlawed by treaty. As a result, the UK wanted to demonstrate its ability to manufacture megaton class weapons by proof-testing them before any legal prohibitions were in place. According to an article in New Scientist, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was also hoping to convince the US to change the McMahon Act, which prohibited sharing information even with the British, by demonstrating that the UK had the technology to make a thermonuclear weapon (an H-bomb), and he put Penney in charge of developing this bomb. The Orange Herald bomb was developed and was passed off as a thermonuclear bomb, when in fact it was a boosted fission weapon in which little of the energy came from fusion. The test of this weapon was successful in convincing the Americans to allow information sharing with the British.
In later years he admitted to qualms about his work but felt it was necessary. When aggressively questioned by the McClelland Royal Commission investigating the test programmes at Monte Bello and Maralinga in 1985, he acknowledged that at least one of the 12 tests probably had unsafe levels of fallout. However, he maintained that due care was taken and that the tests conformed to the internationally accepted safety standards of the time, a position which was confirmed from official records by Lorna Arnold. McClelland broadly accepted Penney's view but anecdotal evidence to the contrary received wide coverage in the press. By promoting a more Australian nationalist view, then current in the government of Bob Hawke, McClelland had also identified "villains" in the previous Australian and British administrations. As a senior witness Penney bore the brunt of the allegations, and his health was badly affected by the experience. He died a few years later at his home in the village of East Hendred, aged 81.
Along with RAF Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, he accompanied the American Team to Tinian Island from which the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions were flown. On 9 August 1945 he witnessed the bombing of Nagasaki. The US authorities had controversially stopped them seeing the Hiroshima detonation, but at the last minute Penney and Cheshire were granted permission to fly in the B-29 Big Stink, one of the observation planes that accompanied the Nagasaki weapon delivery bomber Bockscar. Due to the belated permission, Big Stink missed its rendezvous with the bomber at Nagasaki. They saw the Nagasaki detonation from the air at a distance. As the leading expert on the effects of nuclear weapons, Penney was a member of the team of scientists and military analysts who entered Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945 to assess the effects of nuclear weapons.
Penney accepted a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship and first traveled to United States where he became foreign research associate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, returning to England soon after. In England, Penney was granted the 1851 Exhibition Scholarship to attend the Trinity College at Cambridge University. He changed his mathematical career to physics, and conducted a thorough research and theoretical investigation into the structure of metals and the magnetic properties of crystals.
At Los Alamos Penney worked on the use of the atomic bomb, particularly the height at which it should be detonated. He quickly gained recognition for his scientific talents, and also for his leadership qualities and ability to work in harmony with others. Within a few weeks of his arrival he was added to the core group of scientists making key decisions in the direction of the program. Other members of that team included J. Robert Oppenheimer, John von Neumann, Norman F. Ramsey and Captain William Parsons of the United States Navy (USN).
One of Penney's assignments at Los Alamos was to predict the damage effects from the blast wave of an atomic bomb. On 16 July 1945, Penney was an observer at the Trinity test detonation. He was there to observe the effect of radiant heating in igniting structural materials, and had also designed apparatus to monitor the blast effect of the explosions. The Americans considered him to be among the five most distinguished British contributors to the work. General Leslie Groves, overall director of the Manhattan Project, later wrote:"vital decisions were reached only after the most careful consideration and discussion with the men I thought were able to offer the soundest advice. Generally, for this operation, they were Oppenheimer, Von Neumann, Penney, Parsons and Ramsey."