Stopping Time: A New Stroboscope
Harold "Doc" Edgerton 1903-1990

One of Harold Edgerton's first memories was designing and building a searchlight at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. The irrepressible engineer arrived at MIT in 1926 after graduating from the University of Nebraska with a degree in electrical engineering. While experimenting with electrical power generators, he made an unexpected discovery: he could "stop" time. Like all great engineers and scientists, Edgerton understood that a device developed for one purpose can have value in many other areas.

He hadn't planned on inventing a new type of stroboscope (a nineteenth- century invention), but he was excited with the discovery and immediately obtained a patent. Edgerton had an entrepreneurial streak, and the company he later founded with two students, EG&G, became world famous. Edgerton became an MIT fixture, teaching generations of students, experimenting, and inventing. In World War II he helped develop nighttime aerial reconnaissance photography. After the war, he made major contributions to the field of maritime archaeology, including the development of new underwater lighting and sonar devices that aided exploration of deep-water wrecks.

 Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold E. Edgerton and the
Wonders of Strobe Alley
by Roger R. Bruce, ed., 1994