This interview, the first of several with Arnold Beckman conducted by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, begins with a discussion of Beckman's teenage experience as an industrial chemist at a local gas works in Bloomington, Illinois, and the Keystone Iron and Steel Works. A recollection of Beckman's student days at the University of Illinois, with special emphasis on some of the faculty and students, follows next. The central portion of the interview considers Beckman as a student and faculty member at Caltech and includes his early experiences with instrumentation, patents, and serving as an expert witness. The interview continues with Beckman discussing the origin of the pH meter and DU spectrophotometer, and concludes with the beginning stages of manufacturing and sales, emphasizing the principles used to build National Technical Laboratories, the company that would become Beckman Instruments.
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.
Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.
Arnold O. Beckman, interviewed by Arnold Thackray and Sturchio, Jeffrey L. (Jeffrey Louis) in University of Pennsylvania on April 23, 1985. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0014A. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/sx61dn215.
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