Arnold O. Beckman
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
In this interview Dr. Arnold Beckman begins with the National Technical Laboratories in the late 1930s, and includes details on its policies and operations. Beckman continues with the change from NTL to Beckman Instruments, and emphasizes the development of spectrophotometry instrumentation during the 1940s in the central portion of the transcript. Other projects, including mass spectrometers, Geiger counters, pocket electroscopes, and especially the oxygen analyzer, are also discussed. Following World War II Beckman describes his reinvolvement with Caltech. The interview concludes with Beckman talking about air pollution work in Los Angeles, the formation of Shockley Laboratories, and the future of the instrumentation industry.
|1922||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||BS||Chemical Engineering|
|1923||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||MS||Physical Chemistry|
|1928||California Institute of Technology||PhD||Photochemistry|
Bell Telephone Laboratories
California Institute of Technology
National Inking Appliance Company
National Technical Laboratories
Arnold O. Beckman, Inc.
Beckman Instruments, Inc
Illinois Achievement Award, University of Illinois
|1964 to 1974||
Chairman, Board of Trustees, California Institute of Technology
Honorary ScD degree, Chapman College
Honorary LL D degree, University of California at Riverside
Honorary LL D degree, Loyola University in California
Scientific Apparatus Makers Association Award
Honorary LL D degree, Pepperdine University
Honorary ScD degree, Whittier College
Arnold O. Beckman Conference in Clinical Chemistry, established by American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Arnold O. Beckman Professorship of Chemistry, established by California Institute of Technology
Hoover Medal, American Association of Engineering Societies
Life Achievement Award, Instrument Society of America
Diploma of Honor, Association of Clinical Scientists
Vermilye Medal, The Franklin Institute
National Inventors Hall of Fame, Washington, DC
National Medal of Technology
Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, American Chemical Society
National Medal of Science
Table of Contents
Manufacturers of spectrophotometers. Different typesof spectrophotometers. Interest of scientists in spectrophotometers. Little knowledge of business world at early NTL. Publicity for the spectrophotometer. Development and market research. Creation of sales and service support.
Personnel and their responsibilities. Employees encouraged in their own business ventures. Entrepreneurial environment in Pasadena area. J. Bishop and business techniques at NTL. Philosophy and education for business. Employee relations. Company philosophy. Decision to leave Caltech. Business methods. Advice for scientific entrepreneurs.
Funding for the DU and other research. Government role in funding research and development. Involvement in synthetic rubber project. IR and UV spectrophotometers. Problems in marketing spectrophotometers through dealers.
Manufacture of mass spectrometers, Geiger counters, and pocket electroscopes. Development of the oxygen analyzer. Problems with manufacture of bulbs for oxygen analyzer. Development of quartz fibers for oxygen analyzer. Merger of Arnold O. Beckman, Inc. and Beckman Instruments, Inc. Organization of the Board of Directors of Beckman Instruments. Income and organization of subsidiaries. Attitude toward post-war plans.
Personal reinvolvement with Caltech. Changes concerning applied science. Chairman of the Board. Fundraising. Tensions between science and engineering. Impact of changes in federal research and development funding. Classified research.
Active in Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. Growing concern over air pollution in Los Angeles area. Incorrect focus on sulfur dioxide as source of pollution. Discovery of auto exhaust as pollutant. Meeting with Henry Ford II. Member of National Air Pollution Board. Setting up Shockley Laboratories. Development of cermets. Future direction of instrumentation industry.
Miniaturization. Competition in the instrumentation field. Involvement in Japan's entry into semi-conductor industry. Electronic instrumentation and the health care field. Need for new methods of education.
About the Interviewer
Jeffrey L. Sturchio is president and CEO of the Global Health Council. Previously he served as vice president of corporate responsibility at Merck & Co., president of the Merck Company Foundation, and chairman of the U.S. Corporate Council on Africa. Sturchio is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Applied Economics and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Healthy Next Generation of the World Economic Forum. He received an AB in history from Princeton University and a PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.