Keene P. Dimick

Keene P. Dimick was born in 1915 in Bancroft, Idaho. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Oregon State University in 1942 and went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Frustrated by inadequate instrumentation in his attempts to analyze strawberry oil, Dimick stumbled upon a paper by A. J. P. Martin and A. J. James, who had recently perfected the new technique of gas chromatography. By 1953 Dimick’s laboratory was building its own gas chromatograph.

Realizing that gas chromatographs had a wide range of applications, Dimick convinced his brother-in-law, Ken Wilkins, a high school art teacher, to spend the summer of 1956 helping him produce a series of the revolutionary instruments. In December 1956 the operation was incorporated as Wilkins Instrument and Research. Dimick and Wilkins were committed to producing instruments that “worked well and were low priced,” and their machines were soon in high demand in a variety of fields. In 1965 Wilkins Instruments and Research was bought by Varian Associates. Varian retains a scientific instrument center in Walnut Creek, California, where Dimick began his company.

Dimick continued inventing even after his company was sold. Long years of research had given him chronic back pain, and he wanted to find the perfect exercise to keep his body healthy. In 1968 Dimick invented a stationary bicycle called the Lifecycle. The rights to his exercise machine were bought by two entrepreneurs, who marketed it to health clubs across the nation. The Lifecycle is still a standard exercise product, popular around the world.

Dimick died in 1990. His life is celebrated by Pittcon through the Keene P. Dimick Award for Chromatography, presented annually for noteworthy accomplishments in the area of gas and supercritical fluid chromatography.



An early Wilkins Instrument and Research ad.

Arnold O. Beckman

CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry was started with a generous grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1987.


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