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Charles Franklin Kettering

Updated on December 1, 2016

Charles Franklin Kettering, born near Loudonville, Ohio, August 29, 1876, was an American engineer and inventor:

Graduating as an engineer from Ohio State University in 1904, he joined the National Cash Register Company at Dayton, becoming chief of the inventions department; he designed a motor for the first electrically operated cash register, and other appliances. In 1909 he became vice president of the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company (Delco), which in 1916 was absorbed by the United Motors Corporation (later General Motors). In 1917 he became president and general manager of the General Motors Research Corporation and was later vice president of the parent corporation and director of its Research Laboratories Division until 1947. During World War II he also acted as chairman of the National Inventors Council, which collaborated with the government in meeting wartime technological needs.

Kettering was recognized as one of the world's leading automotive engineers and inventors, stressing the importance of pure scientific research as well as research for industrial needs. Among the 140 or so patents he took out, probably the most important was the automatic self-starter, which revolutionized the automobile industry by permitting the building of more powerful engines and hastened the advent of mass ownership of cars. He also invented or shared in the invention or perfection of Delco lighting; highoctane gasoline; Duco paint; crankcase ventilation; electric refrigeration; a diesel-engine which made possible the diesel locomotive; high-compression automobile engines; a process for extracting bromine from salt water; and numerous other Items. He created the Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1925). at Antioch Coliege, which did important research on photosynthesis and the structure of the chlorophyll molecule, and helped establish (1945) and administer the SloanKettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City.

Charles Franklin Kettering died in Dayton, November 25, 1958.

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