Oral history interview with Wilbur I. Kaye

Oral history interview with Wilbur I. Kaye

  • 2002-Feb-11 (First session)
  • 2002-Feb-27 (Second session)

Kaye describes his early interest in science, and specifically, instrumentation. He discusses his decision to study at the University of Illinois, and his own academic experience there as a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry. Kaye was then recruited to Tennessee Eastman Company, where he set up a physics laboratory, by Dr. William Hincke. Initially, a PerkinElmer, Inc. spectrophotometer was the sole piece of instrumentation in Kaye's lab, but he soon procured more instruments, such as a Baird Corporation Model AB2 and Beckman Instruments, Inc. DU spectrophotometer.

Having joined the Tennessee Eastman division of Eastman Kodak Company near its inception, Kaye relates the history of the company to the explosion of instrumentation research, and analysis in scientific research. Near the end of his tenure at Tennessee Eastman, Kaye was one of the first scientists to publish work in the United States on gas chromatography. Kaye began modifying the DU spectrophotometer while at Tennessee Eastman, and took this work with him on his move to Beckman Instruments. Kaye's modification to the DU became known as the Beckman DK spectrophotometer, which contributed to the competition and friction between former employee Howard H. Cary and owner of Beckman Instruments, Arnold O. Beckman. Kaye discusses the difference between DK1 and DK2, the DU and the DK, and addresses the Beckman line of infrared spectrophotometers. During the company's shift into clinical instruments, Kaye developed a glucose analyzer, which James C. Sternberg continued work on once the company withdrew support. Kaye developed the DKU, which combined aspects of both infrared and ultraviolet instrumentation. In addition to pointing out some of the history of Beckman Instruments in the second half of the interview, Kaye describes the interface between administration and research components of the company.

Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3
  • 39 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Kaye, Wilbur I. (Wilbur Irving), interviewed by Gerald E. Gallwas in La Jolla, California on February 27, 2002. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0232. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/p8418p298.

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Transcript (Published Version)

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

6 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads