Charles Kettering (1876-1958), an American inventor, designed the first electrical ignition system for the automobile in 1911. The invention of the electric starter by Kettering eliminated the need for use of the hand crank, an arduous and sometimes dangerous task. The electronic ignition helped make automobiles practical and safe, allowing the expansion of the market. Kettering became the founder of Delco (Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company), a major automotive corporation. His other inventions include quick-drying automotive paint; shock absorbers; safety glass; automatic transmission; the electric railway gate, and the first synthetic aviation fuel. In 1928, Thomas Midgley, Jr. and Charles Kettering invented a "miracle compound" called freon that revolutionized refrigeration technology. Freon was later identified as a principal source of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), one of the primary chemicals responsible for depleting the Earth's stratospheric ozone. In 1945, Kettering helped establish the Sloan-Kettering Institute, a cancer research facility located in New York.
- Inventor of the Week: Charles F. Kettering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Kovarik, Bill, 1999. Charles F. Kettering and the 1921 Discovery of Tetraethyl Lead in the Context of Technological Alternatives.
- People & Events: Charles F. Kettering, 1876-1958, PBS Online.