The name 4R44E means 4 forward gears, rear-drive platform (or 4WD, with a different tailshaft housing), rated for 440 ft/lb torque (after torque converter multiplication) and electronic shifting. 4R55E is the same but heavier duty and rated for 550 ft·lbs.
For the 1995 model year, the A4LD was upgraded to feature full electronic controls, resulting in a new transmission family. The two major versions of this new transmission were the 4R44E and 4R55E. The 4R44E was used in lighter-duty applications, namely with 4-cylinder or 3.0 L V6 models of the Ford Ranger pickup, while the 4R55E was used in heavier-duty applications, specifically with the 4.0 L Cologne V6 used in vehicles like the said Ford Ranger or Ford Explorer. The 4R55E was short-lived however as it was replaced in all instances where it was used with the newer 5R55E during the 1997 model year. The 4R44E continued on through the end of the 1990s before being replaced by the 5R55E's relative, the 5R44E.