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American Optical History

AO Firsts and other achievements!

Notable AO Contributions
include a wide variety of fields which are summarized below:

Ophthalmic Optics
Safety Eyewear
Fiber Optics
Todd – AO movie projection / sound
Military Contributions
Medical Devices

AO Ophthalmic Lens “Firsts”

Tillyer Corrected Curve Series
First US Progressive lens patent – Dr. Estelle Glancy in 1924
First Minus Toric Series
Implementation of Franklin Style Executive Bifocal
First plastic Photochromic Lens - Photolite
Permalite – Industry first Abrasion Resistant tintable coating
AO Compact – first PAL designed for Small Frames

AO Safety Products Firsts
First Safety Goggle
First Heat Tempered Glass Lens (added impact resistance lens strength)
Invented Calobar and Cruxite
Fulvue Frame (first with temples attached at the top)
Executive Safety lens

AO Safety info from 1954 letters to Arthur Keeney by George Schauweker

AO Safety firsts - 1981 summary

AO Instrument Firsts Include:

Additive Phoroptor
Additive Trial Sets
Non Contact Tonometer (1972)
AO Cardiac difibrillator

AO Cardiac difibrillator photo above
Demand pacemaker
Solid State Laser

AO Blood pump - 1951 AO News

Fiber Optics Events at AO Southbridge

Early 1953 Dr. Brian O’Brien joins AO (Todd-AO his top priority)
Sept 1954- AO Hires Will Hicks / CIA
Mid –1957 Image Scrambler Project ends after Hicks tells CIA code easy to break
1958 – Hicks leaves AO and Forms Mosaic Fabrications in Sturbridge
1960 – Hicks / Eli Snitzer (AO): single mode wavelength patent


AO Milestones from 1800's

AO Historical Firsts/ Timeline of Events

In depth 1945 historical document by H. Styll from the Optical Heritage Museum archives

Product Firsts at AO in pdf form

Excerpt from AO 1985 Brochure -
Download complete booklet (4mb pdf) 17-May-10

AO's Anti-reflection coating development / product historical info- New June 15, 2010

AO's Permalite Coating

The influence of CR-39 (sixty years after its introduction) - 2006 article by Dick Whitney

Feb 1975 - AOLITE History & technical orientation

AO's lens designers

Don Whitney Autobiography excerpt of AO

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Comments, additions or questions - email Dick Whitney