In 1921, Charles Avnet, a 33-year-old Russian-Jewish immigrant, began buying surplus radio parts and selling them to the public on the Radio Rows of United States port cities. As radio manufacturing grew, parts distribution took off. In the mid-1920s, when factory-made radios began to replace radio parts, he adjusted his distribution pipeline and began selling parts to manufacturers and dealers. In the mid-1920s, Avnet diversified by branching out into car radio kits and automobile assembly kits. During the Great Depression, he shifted the focus from retailing to wholesaling.
Avnet, Inc. is one of the world's largest distributors of electronic components and embedded solutions and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Although the corporation's products have been an important part of computer networking, the corporate name is neither an acronym nor a coined word, and dates from nearly a century ago, when it was founded by Charles Avnet in 1921. After its start on Manhattan's Radio Row, the company became incorporated in 1955 and began trading on the New York Stock Exchange in 1961. On May 8, 2018 Avnet officially changed stock markets to Nasdaq, trading under the same ticker, $AVT. Avnet currently ranks #128 on the Fortune 500 and #414 on the Fortune Global 500, reporting FY 2017 revenues of $22.87 billion.
Avnet has purchased a number of companies to broaden their reach in ecosystem services including Hackster.io, Dragon Innovation, and UK based Premier Farnell.