Charles F. Kettering

August 29, 1876 — 

November 25, 1958

Charles F. Kettering was born in Loudonville, Ohio on August 29, 1876.  Kettering enrolled in the Ohio State University and earned an electrical engineering degree in 1904.

Kettering’s long career earned him more than 300 patents and the reputation of being a great American inventor. His career began when he became the head of research for General Motors.  He served in that role for 27 years from 1920 to 1947.  While at GM, Kettering invented the all-electric starting ignition and lighting system for the automobile. Other patents included a portable lighting system, Freon, a World War I “aerial torpedo,” the Kettering Bug, a treatment for venereal disease and an incubator for premature infants. His engine-driven generator was combined with storage batteries to form a “Delco Plant”, providing an electrical lighting system for farmhouses and other locations remote from an electrical power grid.  Kettering also developed the idea of Duco paint and ethyl gasoline. Kettering was instrumental in helping to develop diesel engines and ways to harness solar energy. He was a pioneer in the application of magnetism to medical diagnostic techniques.

In 1945, Kettering helped found the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, based on the premise that American industrial research techniques could be applied to cancer research.

The city of Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, was named in his honor when it was incorporated in 1955.  Kettering passed away in November 1958.