Charles Franklin Kettering, 1876 - 1958

portrait of Charles F. Kettering


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.

Biography from Wikipedia and Kettering University

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