Founded in 1927 by William W. Grainger, W.W. Grainger provides wholesale electric motor sales and distribution business. He established the company to provide an efficient solution for customers to access a consistent supply of electric motors. Sales in the early days were generated primarily through mail order via post cards and a catalog. In 1976, Grainger became the first in the industry to implement optical character recognition equipment. Grainger continued to advance its systems throughout the 1980s by installing a national satellite-based digital communication network. In 1991, Grainger introduced the first comprehensive electronic MRO catalog on CD-ROM. Grainger launched the corporate website in 1995 and began taking orders online in 1996. Grainger s product line includes more than 500,000 supplies and 2.5 million repair parts. The Grainger branch network consists of more than 570 branches in North America, including the Kansas City, Mo. The catalog is published annually and is available on CD-ROM and online.