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Short Stories of Science and Invention

A Collection of Radio Talks by
Charles F. Kettering

INDEX

Weekly, from September 1942 to July 1945, Charles F. Kettering gave five-minute intermission talks about Science and Invention during the radio broadcasts of the General Motors Symphony of the Air.

Kettering invented the first automobile self-starter, and for 31 years directed a research laboratory for General Motors.

These radio talks are a fascinating legacy from the mind of a prolific inventor. The obvious anachronisms now add a historical perspective of the war-time period in which they were written.

These web pages now preserve some of the most popular stories for a new generation to read The text and art come from a General Motors booklet of selected talks. (Reprint, March 1959)

37.  Thomas Midgley, Jr.
A Radio Talk by
Charles F. Kettering


     On the afternoon of February 2, 1923, over twenty-two years ago, a car drove into a filling station in Dayton, Ohio and the driver said, "Give me five gallons of that new Ethyl Gas advertised on the sign." That simple event is important because it was the first sale of this anti-knock gasoline to the public- and it set a precedent that millions of motorists have followed ever since that day.

Thomas Midgeley     I have referred in the past to the importance of the Ethyl development in connection with the war effort, peace time transportation and the conservation of our petroleum resources. This afternoon I would like to pay tribute to all of the men who worked on this project, and one in particular - a very close friend and brilliant thinker - the late Thomas Midgley, Jr.

      Young Midgley was descended from a long line of inventors - in fact, I believe one of his ancestors was an employee of James Watt, the father of the steam engine. This may have had something to do with the fact that young Tom was graduated from Cornell, 1911, as a mechanical engineer. But at the time of his death, he was president of the American Chemical Society.



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