Charles Franklin Kettering, 1876 - 1958
Born: 8 May 1876, Loudonville, Ohio
Died: 25 November 1958, Dayton, Ohio
With limited finances and poor eyesight, Kettering didn't earn his engineering degree from Ohio State University until 1904 at age 28. He became a researcher for National Cash Register for five years, designing an improved ignition system for cars in his own time. He organized Dayton Engineering Laboratories (Delco) in 1909 with backing from Edward Deeds, then general manager of NCR. After selling ignition systems to Cadillac he developed the first electric starter, an option on Cadillacs in 1912. Delco became part of General Motors in 1920 and Kettering's labs became the General Motors Research Corporation, of which he was vice president. After a 1916 speech the YMCA founded the School of Automobile Trades which became the GM Institute in 1926, it was renamed Kettering University in 1998. He had the idea for a better paint for automotive use and worked with Du Pont to develop Duco lacquers, he also contributed to the development of ethyl gasoline, Freon as a refrigerant, and lighter-weight diesel engines. He was awarded 140 patents during his lifetime. In 1945 he was instrumental in establishing the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He died following a series of strokes.
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Charles F. Kettering quotes:
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- A man must have a certain amount of intelligent ignorance to get anywhere. permalink
- A problem thoroughly understood is always fairly simple. Found your opinions on facts, not prejudices. We know too many things that are not true. permalink
- A problem well stated is a problem half solved. permalink
- An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots. permalink
- An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn't take his education too seriously. permalink
- Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail. permalink
- Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress. permalink
"Get Off Route 25, Young Man" in Collier's (3 December 1949)
- Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. permalink
quoted by Thomas Alvin Boyd in Charles F. Kettering: A Biography (2002)
- High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. permalink
- I object to people running down the future. I am going to live all the rest of my life there. permalink
- I think that the greatest education in the world is the education which helps one to be able to do the right things at the time it has to be done. permalink
General Motors Institute commencement speech (August 1932)
- If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong. permalink
- If you want to kill any idea in the world today, get a committee working on it. permalink
- In America we can say what we think, and even if we can't think, we can say it anyhow. permalink
- Inventing is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less material you need. permalink
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