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Daniel W. Fox

Daniel W. Fox

Daniel Fox holding a sample of Lexan polycarbonate resin, CHF Collections

  • Born: May 14, 1923, Johnston, Pennsylvania
  • Died: February 15, 1989

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0058
Interview Date: August 16, 1986
Location: Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Interviewers: Leonard W. Fine and George Wise
No. of pages: 68
Minutes: 240

  Abstract of Interview

Daniel Fox begins the interview with a discussion of his family background and early education. Fox and his sisters grew up in various parts of Pennsylvania. He credits his high school chemistry teacher with piquing his interest in science. After graduating from high school, he decided to attend Penn State University. He only spent a year there, however, before joining the Air Force and became a navigator during World War II. When he returned from his military service, Fox went to Lebanon Valley College, where he earned his B.S. in chemistry in 1949. He then went directly to graduate school at the University of Illinois, studying under "Speed" Marvel. There he was first introduced to polymer chemistry. Fox was married by this time, and he and his wife had difficulty finding housing in the Urbana area. So he decided to move to the University of Oklahoma. There he worked on nitration studies of diphenols and biphenyls, and received his Ph.D. in 1953. Though the Air Force wanted Fox to serve during the Korean War, he instead did research for the Atomic Energy Commission, synthesizing isocorsitrone. In 1953, Fox accepted a position at General Electric, and spent his entire career there. He worked on various projects, including polycarbonates, PPPO, PBT, and the development of Lexan and Ultem. Fox concludes the interview with his final thoughts on working at General Electric.


1949 B.S., Chemistry, Lebanon Valley College
1951 M.S., Chemistry, University of Oklahoma
1953 Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Oklahoma

  Professional Experience

United States Air Force

1943 - 1946 Navigator

General Electric Company

1953 - 1956 Chemist, Turbine Laboratory

General Electric Company

1956 - 1959 Specialist, Advanced Development, Chemical Development Department

General Electric Company

1959 - 1962 Manager, Product Development, Chemical Development Operation

General Electric Company

1962 - 1966 Manager, Research and Development, Chemical Development Operation

General Electric Company

1966 - 1968 Consultant, Chemical Technology, Chemical Development Operation

General Electric Company

1968 - 1970 Manager, Research Operation, Chemical Development Operation

General Electric Company

1970 - 1979 Manager, Central Research, Plastics Division

General Electric Company

1979 - 1988 Manager, Chemical Development, Plastics Technology Department


1976 Plastics Hall of Fame

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family Background 1

Growing up in Pennsylvania. Siblings. High school chemistry.

College Education 3

Attending Penn State University. Transferring to Lebanon Valley College after serving in U.S. Navy. Decision to attend graduate school.

Graduate School and Postdoctoral Studies 5

Studying with "Speed" Marvel at the University of Illinois. Introduction to polymer chemistry. Decision to move to the University of Oklahoma. Studying organic chemistry. Work on nitration studies. Influence of Simon Wender. Research for the Atomic Energy Commission. Synthesizing isocorsitrone.

Early Career at General Electric 16

Accepting position at General Electric. Working in central research laboratory. Synthesizing polymers. Moving to Materials and Process Laboratory.

Research at GE 25

Work on polycarbonates. Development of Lexan and PPO. Colleagues at GE. Producing PBT. Ultem development.

Conclusion 58

Final thoughts on GE.

Notes 61

Index 62

  About the Interviewer

Leonard W. Fine

Leonard Fine is professor of chemistry and director of undergraduate studies in chemistry at Columbia University. His special interests include polymer chemistry and materials science, industrial inorganic and organic chemistry, engineering plastics, problems in solid waste management and the recovery and recycling of post-consumer plastics. Among his recent publications are two practical manuals on principles and practices of infrared spectroscopy and a general chemistry textbook for engineers and scientists. He holds a B.S. in chemistry from Marietta College and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Maryland at College Park.

George Wise

George Wise is a communications specialist at the General Electric Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York. He holds a B.S. in engineering physics from Lehigh University, an M.S. in physics from University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in history from Boston University. He worked briefly as a systems engineer before entering his current career in public relations. He has published a book and several articles about the history of industrial research, invention and science. His current research interest is how people can learn from history.

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