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Charles F Kettering

Updated on December 1, 2016

Charles Franklin Kettering, American engineer and inventor. Born near Loudonville, Ohio, Aug. 29, 1876.  Kettering is probably best known as the inventor of the automobile self-starter, which was introduced on the 1911 Cadillac. At about the same time he improved auto lighting and ignition systems and invented a battery-powered lamp for farm use. Later, as head of research for General Motors Corporation, Kettering was largely responsible for the invention of a quick-drying automobile paint, high-octane and leaded gasoline, and a nonpoisonous coolant for refrigerators. He also developed a high-speed diesel engine that made diesel locomotives practical. His invention of an economical high-compression automobile engine was announced in 1951. In addition to his lifelong work on practical inventions for industry, Kettering supported pure scientific research. He set up the Charles F. Kettering Foundation in 1927 and was a co-founder of the Sloan-Ketter-ing Institute for Cancer Research in 1945. Kettering died near Dayton, Ohio, November 25, 1958.


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