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Daniel W. Fox Papers

  • 1953–1988
  • American
    Created and used by Daniel W. Fox at the General Electric Company
  • 24 linear feet
    Papers, various polymer samples, audio-visual, photographs
  • Gift of Daniel S. Fox
  • 1991.013.001
  • Copyright restrictions may apply (contact CHF archivist).

Description

Pertains to Fox’s professional career at General Electric and his career as a private inventor. Includes office files, correspondence, patents, technical reports, biographical material, laboratory notes, conference papers, product samples, awards and certificates, photographs, GE newsletters, journal reprints, books, transparencies, video tapes, and newspaper clippings.

Background note
Daniel W. Fox (1923–1988) achieved distinction and renown as the "father of LEXAN." However, his outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of high-performance polymers and plastic are not confined to the discovery of LEXAN polycarbonate resin. He held over 45 U.S. patents and for over two decades initiated and directed the technical development and commercialization of various other General Electric products.

Daniel W. Fox was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator in the Pacific theater from 1942 to 1945, Fox received his B.S. in chemistry from Lebanon Valley College in 1949. He then studied at the University of Oklahoma, where he received his Ph.D. in 1952 in organic chemistry. Fox began his professional career at GE in 1953 and stayed there until his retirement in 1988.

After hearing a comment at a review meeting, Fox recalled an experiment he once performed at the university, which, combined with his own inquisitiveness, led Fox to his first experiments involving the synthesis of bisphenol-A polycarbonates by means of a melt process. The result was a mass of polycarbonate that became so thick that the stirring rod stalled. The solidified "glob" of polymer led to the development of LEXAN: it launched GE’s engineering plastics business in the late 1950s and spearheaded a new generation of high-performance engineering materials.

When Fox retired from GE in 1988, he was the manager of product development of Chemical Development Operations. For over three decades Fox played a crucial role in initiating and nurturing the research, development, and application of new materials, processes, and products involving plastics and polymers. Honors bestowed on Fox included the International Award from the Society of Plastic Engineers, the Chemical Pioneer Award from the AIC, and memberships to the Plastics Hall of Fame and the Plastics Pioneer Association.

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