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Edmund Optics’ founder dies

Photonics Spectra
Feb 2012
BARRINGTON, N.J. – Norman W. Edmund, founder of Edmund Optics Inc. (EO), has died. His son, Robert, made the announcement on Jan. 17.

Norman Edmund began cultivating an interest in optics in his mid-20s and started a mail-order lens-kit business, Edmund Salvage Corp., in 1942. His office was a card table in the family home. His wife, Pauline, served as the vice president of operations, a position she would hold for the next 30 years.

Edmund subsequently added prisms, war surplus optical items, telescopes and scientific items to his business, many of which he sourced from the Franklin Arsenal in Philadelphia. The expanded optics company, now counting major research labs and universities among its clients, then changed its name to Edmund Scientific Inc.

In 1948, Edmund completed construction on the Barrington office, dedicated to both his company and his mission – to inspire subsequent generations of optical scientists and engineers by offering the best and most comprehensive selection of optics in the world. He was known to read as many as 200 periodicals per month in search of clever ideas, new products and innovative applications for his unique lenses.

By the beginning of the Korean War, Edmund had accumulated approximately $60 million worth of US surplus optics. After his company responded to a US Army need for optical equipment during the war, an army representative remarked, “Gee, you have more optics than the Army!”

During the 1970s Edmund focused his company away from surplus optics and into the manufacture and distribution of commercial quality optics and components. He retired in 1975, passing the leadership on to his son, Robert M. Edmund, the current CEO. Edmund Optics is now the largest supplier of off-the-shelf optical components in the world as well as a producer of imaging and photonics technology. Led by a staff of skilled optical engineers and scientists, EO is application-focused and pursues new ways to implement optical technology, enabling advancements in semiconductor manufacturing, industrial metrology and medical instrumentation.

Edmund focused much of his later years on researching and publishing books about “The Scientific Method,” where he is credited with creating an advanced model for educators to teach the method to future generations.



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