American Optical History
AO's Ophthalmic Lens Designers
Read excerpts from Tim Tillyer's book on his Grandfather "Doc"
Dr. E.D.Tillyer- "DOC"
(Internet link to Tim Tillyers Biography of his Grandfather)
of Doc Tillyers AO patents as listed in Tim
June 29, 2011 Rev pdf file
"It was Dr. Edgar D. Tillyer’s particular job in the AO
Research Division to study light before it enters the
eye. It is
generally acknowledged the greatest single achievement of
Dr. Tillyer and the group was the development of the
marginally corrected lens. The idea was not
new. As early as 1804, physicists recognized the problem
of producing an accurate or corrected lens. There was
such a lens on the market in 1915, however, it had to be
ground at the factory to assure accuracy. “But the
distinction of combining correction for both astigmatism and
power, and the further distinction of making such complete
correction available to the optical trades and professions
through prescription service for the first time belong to ...
the Research Division of American Optical Company under the
capable leadership of Dr. Tillyer.” (E. E. Orrington,
History of Optometry, 1929). But Tillyer and his group
didn’t stop with the “Tillyer Lens.” There were many
other avant garde (for their time) developments such as the
Ful-Vue Bifocal; Calobar Glass (absorption lenses used by the
millions during World War II); Lensometer (first truly
accurate method of measuring lens power); aviation lenses
(no-power lenses to overcome prismatic distortion, used by
fliers in World War II); Venturi aviation goggles; Cruxite
glass; Tillyer cataract lenses; trial sets; additive power
- 150th AO Anniversary Summary of Doc Tillyer - 1982
Link to 1982 Southbridge News Article on AO Employees and their recollections of "DOC"
on Doc Tillyer Medal
(courtesy of Jacob Edwards Library)
Doc Tillyer Article in Nov 04 Optics and Photonics News
Doc's 70th Birthday card -Courtesy of Tim Tillyer who writes:
Here is a picture of a "birthday card" I have that was
given to Doc on his 70th birthday party. Actually it is
a pen and ink drawing by B. J. BRADEEN and is about 15 x 12
and it is signed by 34 of Doc's co-workers. These
signatures include J.J. STEVENSON, Bill HERMAN, Sam T. SHEARD,
Harry CRANDON, Ben GROSVONOS (?), Harold GOULD, Roger
WADSWORTH, John COWARD (?), Larry LITCHFIELD, Louis ROWE,
Bessie KRALY, Ed MOON, Win DRORELL, Bob HAYNES, A. Estelle
RAYNER, Grace BULL, Mary J. QUINT, Adele TILLER(?),
Henry FERNALD, Wes REED, Don WHITNEY, Art BAILEY, Lon
EDMO...(?), Ray MOULTON, Wm. H. REVOIR, Lloyd W.
GOOD..N(?),> Lee UPTON, Lenny MALSER, Harold R. MOULTON,
Bryon J. ZIEGLER, Kathy SCANLON, Daniel P. BERNHEIM, Arthur J.
Here are two letters from Don Whitney that were sent to Tim Tillyer when he researched the Internet article on his grandfather "DOC":
Don Whitney's Sept 9, 1997 letter to Tim Tillyer on Doc & Dr. Estelle Glancy
Don Whitney's Sept 19 letter to Tim Tillyer on Doc
1916 E.D.Tillyer U.S.Naval Observatory article on the
Clock Vault (non ophthalmic)
PDF of this page from the AO News- Aug 24, 1945
May 2009 Lensometer Display (courtesy of the Optical Heritage Museum)
at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center
Dr. Glancy was a mathematician worked closely with Doc Tillyer on numerous AO lens designs, and was responsible for performing the many complex mathematical calculations involved in ophthalmic optics. Shown below is evidence of her working with Doc date back in 1921, where Dr. Tillyer has signed off his approval Dr. Glancy's calculations.
For years, she and Doc Tillyer worked together on complex lens
calculations and designs. Click
here for more on Dr. Glancy.
Pitt H. Herbert (25 years at AO prior to 1924 when he left for B&L Lens Design Added 2-Feb-12
1957 Optical Journal Obit courtesy of Diane Matuck
Pitt was recently added to the Optical
Heritage Museum Hall of Fame
Download pdf of obit
K. Davis - In memory of
John Davis worked at AO from 1938 thru 1976. He assume Dr. Glancy's responsibilites in the area of lens design at AO, when she retired in 1948. John hired my Father Donald Whitney (see below). John retired from AO in 1975, and later worked at Gentex Optics from the late 1970s until the end of 2000. John is a world famous lens design and Industry Standards expert. Click here for a recent photo taken at the June 12 Reunion at Roms (John is standing).
In the 1961 photo above, Doc Tillyer and Dr. Estelle Glancy are shaking hands and John Davis is wearing the bowtie.
An unusual photo includes 3 AO Lens designers (Center - John Davis, Second from right - Henry Fernald, Right - Don Whitney)
Photo courtesy of John Davis ~ 1950
Also pictured Marcel Benjamin (L) and Allen Jewell
Henry was a mathematician, who performed laborious ray tracing and other lens calculations. While today, a computer takes seconds to do this work, I know it took days to do such a calculations. Henry and my father Don Whitney worked together making similar calculations in order to error check such difficult calculations. I have a number of books of Henry's, where these calculations can be seen. As a result, Henry became a family friend, and I recall his visits to our house.
Don Whitney joined American Optical in 1947 as an apprentice in Lens Design. Click here to read about his recollections of that period. Don later managed the AOLITE plastic lens casting operation, and was responsible for the design of the Fulvue Cataract aspheric Lens. He "retired from AO in 1983, but worked from then until 1993 consulting for AO. During that period, I had the unique experience of working with Don (my father) on lens design issues. Don Whitney's 1998 Obitituary in Vision Monday. To see a rare photo of John Davis (center), Henry Fernald (right of center) and Don Whitney (right), click here. This photo was provided courtesy of John Davis and was a social gathering in around 1950. Also pictured are Marcel Benjamin and Alan Jewell, and all were AO Employees at that time.
Click here for a collection of Technical Papers by Don Whitney on ophthalmic optics
ISO TC172 1979 Deliberations (Don Whitney L and Tom Loomis R)
ISO TC172 1979 Deliberations (Dave Lamarre)-
Don, Dave and Tom represented the US
1979 - Dick Whitney (L) and Dave LaMarre (R)
During the 1980's, I worked closely with Dave on a number of ophthalmic and military lens designs, as well as on Standards issues. During that late 1980's, Dave, Don and I worked on design software for aspheric lens surfaces. Dave also designed a number of specialized military polycarbonate lens designs. One included a 20 Diopter curve plano and Rx polycarbonate gas mask lens for Apache Helicopter pilots. Looking at these today, they certainly were an achievement!
here for more on Dave
Dr. John Winthrop
Dr. Winthrop joined American Optical in 1967, and has designed all of AO's Progressive lenses. His latest AO b'Active lens was recently released, and he continues to work on new lens designs. His Progressive lens design achievements include a very impressive list of highly successful Progressive lenses:
AO Progressive Lens / Date of introduction to market
Ultravue - 1975
Truvision - 1981
Truvision OMNI -1988
Truvision Technica (Task specific computer lens) - 1990
AO Pro 15 - 1992
AO Pro 16
AO Force 55 - 1996
AO Compact - 1998
AO b' Active - 2000
AO Pro Easy - 2003
Compact Ultra - 2007 (Under Sola / CZV name)
Youtube 1987 design presentations of Dr. Winthrops
Truvision / Pal Designs :
Added April 19, 2012
John Winthrop Meeting room door- Fougeres,France
Dave LaMarre, my father Don Whitney, and Dr. John Winthrop have been great teachers in this specialized field. It is only from the knowledge and design tools that their work has provided to me, that I have been able to make some contribution in AO's Lens Design area.
Dick Whitney Ophthalmic Lens info
To learn more about their contributions, check out the Optical Heritage Museum Website - AO Technical Documents
Whitney Home Page
Comments or questions? Contact Dick Whitney via email at email@example.com