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AB Atlas was founded in 1873 with the mission to manufacture and sell railway equipment. At the time, it was the largest manufacturing company in Sweden. In addition to railroad equipment, AB Atlas manufactured steam engines and fixed steel constructions for bridges, buildings, and church steeples. The company soon expanded into pneumatic tools, compressors, and rock drilling equipment. In 1898, AB Atlas acquired the Swedish rights to produce Rudolf Diesel's patented engine. A new company was founded for this: AB Diesels Motorer. In 1917, AB Atlas merged with AB Diesel Motorer, becoming AB Atlas Diesel, with the mission to refine the diesel engine. At the same time, production of steam locomotives was phased out. Despite the focus on diesel engines, it was the compressed air tools area that turned out to be the most successful. After World War II, Atlas launched a method combining a light rock drill with pusher leg and drill steels with tungsten carbide drill bits. This method proved superior to competing methods and became known all over the world as the "Swedish Method”. In 1948 the diesel business was finally sold after producing 5,447 diesel engines. Atlas was now completely focused on compressed air, and the journey to worldwide leadership in this area began. In 1956, this was manifested by changing the company's name to Atlas Copco. "Copco" stands for “Compagnie Pneumatique Commerciale”, from a Belgian subsidiary. Atlas Copco delivered its first screw compressor in 1954. In 1967, the company was ready for another major step with the presentation of a compressor that produced oil-free compressed air (no oil was injected into the compressor chamber). The oil-free machines opened up new markets and applications for Atlas Copco. In 1968, a major reorganization was undertaken and three new business areas were formed: Mining and Construction Technique, Airpower, and Tools. In 1999, a fourth business area was established, Rental Service, and in 2001 Prime Service and Rental Service Corporation merged to develop synergies and to better serve customer in the U.S.
Presently, Atlas Copco is comprised of four main groups which produces and markets compressed air equipment and generators, construction and mining equipment, electric and pneumatic tools and assembly systems and offers related service and equipment rentals. Within the construction and mining technique, Atlas Copco Secoroc is a business line which develops, manufactures and markets rock drilling tools for the mining and construction industries for both surface and underground applications (see appendix A). Atlas Copco Construction & Mining Canada is the sales company representing the Construction and Mining Technique in Canada. The head office is located in Lively, Ontario.