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As I was growing up, whenever someone asked what my dad did, I would reply "he's a mad scientist."  He always had some invention in the works with electrical gadgets strewn about.  In  fact, Irwin was a scientist, though I seriously doubt he was mad.  With or without degrees, he was a physicist, an electrical engineer, and a materials engineer.

There are many tasks that Irwin worked on that were before my time such as his pioneering work in modern fax technology.  A 1971 resume describes several of his early efforts.  Around 1960 he worked on a project that resulted in a revolutionary map in a suitcase with some pretty incredible potential applications.

During the '60s Irwin developed a "baby warmer," a device that maintained an infant's body temperature through the use of fiber optic probes that enabled surgeons to perform critical operations without the cumbersome confines of a surgical incubator.

Irwin has always been concerned with the impact of automobiles on the planet.  His own automobiles were always the smallest, most efficient available.  He invented one of the first transistor ignition systems that was used in thousands of Volkswagen Beetles.  We kids would work the assembly line in our basement in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, placing the assemblies in the plastic mold, pouring in the liquid acrylic, baking in the kiln, and package up for mailing to customers.  And then several years later, in a small apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Irwin developed a three-wheeled electric commuter car.  What a blast to ride in that!

In his later years Irwin designed a lightweight fiberglass pole that was significantly stronger than comparable steel poles, and a fraction of the weight.  He envisioned these poles being used on highways for light poles (they also had more "give" on impact then steel or concrete),  and to support street lights.  His eldest grandson, Joey, helped to assemble the early prototypes, and consequently at Joey's suggestion they became known as Ding Dings.  The Coast Guard had expressed an interest in using the Ding Dings as buoys.  If boats or ships hit them, the vessels would not be damaged, and they were flexible and could adapt to wind and tide.

One of Irwin's final projects was the design of a lightweight portable structure that he called Pentamids.  These structures can be easily disassembled, yet are incredibly  stable.  They were intended to be used in disaster relief situations where large numbers of people are left without shelter.   Another target for the use of the structure was as a safe-haven for golfers during thunderstorms.

 

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THE REPORTER DISPATCH, WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1950

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Facsimile Transmitting Demonstrated

Transmitting and receiving of messages and images by electronics was discussed and demonstrated yesterday afternoon for students in electrical technology at the Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, New York State University, at Battle Hill School by representatives of the Facsimile and Electronics Corp., of Passaic, N.J. Casper Bower, president of the firm, traced the history of facsimile since its beginnings in 1840 at about the time telegraphy was being invented. He talked of its application in industry, government and communications, noting that fingerprints are sent out by the FBI to points throughout the country by facsimile. Telegraphy itself is a form of facsimile, he said, as is telephoto, the transmission of pictures to newspaper offices. Irwin Franzel, director of research at the firm, talked about the technical aspects of the process, describing it as a function of a photo cell, a mechanical eye that reads print and transmits it to an electronic brain which sends it out over a wire or wireless to a remote point where it is picked up by electronic means and reproduced in exact form on photographic paper. Yesterday's program was sponsored by the electrical technology department of the Institute to acquaint students with important developments in industry. Harold Desnoyers is director of the department.

ACTUAL OPERATION of a Facsimile transmitting and receiving machine was demonstrated yesterday afternoon for students at the Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, State University of New York, at Battle Hill School by representatives of the Facsimile and Electronics Corp., Passaic, N.J. Shown, left to right are Pat Fontanarosa of New Rochelle, Albert Wanser of Ridgefield, Conn., and Pat Egan of White Plains, all students in the electrical technology for the company; Irwin Franzel, research director and Casper M. Bower, president of the Facsimile Corporation - Staff Photo

 

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Background Resume of Irwin H. Franzel
1971

Curriculum Vitae
Irwin H. Franzel

Born August 14, 1924
Address 41l Bryn Mawr Island
Bradenton, FL 34207-5612
Married Six children
Professional Work History:
1945-1948 Federal Telecommunications Labs,(ITT subsidiary).
Project Design Engineer. Headed research group studying physics of solids in vacuo; secondary emission, work functions, primary cathode emission, electric fields in the presence of high-density electron clouds. Contributed to the development of early pulse-time-modulated and pulse-code-modulated communication systems. Invented special purpose cathode-ray and switching tubes. Developed AEC nuclear-particle spectrum analyzer and proposed three-dimensional radar display in 1947, described in Science and Technology, September 1963.
1948-1952 Finch Telecommunications Co. Director of Research.
Directed research and development in graphic communications. Invented electrostatic recording techniques, numerous modulation systems and electro-mechanical synchronization systems. Responsible for development of facsimile communications systems and diverse countermeasure systems for detecting and decoding graphic and speech signals.
1952-1955 Curtiss-Wright, Thermal Devices Division. Engineering manager.
Was instrumental in establishing this division. Developed and manufactured thermal instruments and time-delay relays. Developed unique gas-control systems for modifying the characteristics of delay relays.
1955-1959 J.A. Maurer, Corp. Chief Engineer, Electronics Division.
Responsible for the development of camera control systems for reconnaissance and other military activities. Invented first accepted Military-Standard, automatic exposure control for strategic aircraft. Conceived and developed launch system for the Titan missile. Responsibilities included electronic, mechanical and optical design and production facilities. Developed quality control standards and procedures.
1959-1962 Raytheon Company, Space and Information Systems Division.
Principal Scientist. Responsibilities included supervising research, development end production of electronic equipment in the data-reduction, data-acquisition and information-processing fields. In the Intelligence and Exploration Branch of the division, global and extra-terrestrial-mapping systems were added to these responsibilities. One of the programs directed was acclaimed as the most significant scientific development sponsored by the Air Force up to 1961.
1962-present Autotronics, Inc. President.
Developed and marketed an electronic ignition system for production automobiles, as well as other automotive products. Processed a contract for the U.S. Navy for the first laser communication system. Developed a number of independent inventions, including a Phoneminder for the detection of incoming phone calls; a baby warmer, for the preservation of the thermal environment of newborn infants during surgery and other procedures; a proposal for the acoustical detection and diagnosis of joint diseases; and a number of novel, special purpose circuits.
1967-1968 Electro-Miniatures. Corp. Vice President, Research and Development.
Responsible for the developments leading to the reduction of torque in inertial guidance slip-ring systems and theoretical studies of the characteristics of slip-rings. Developed quality control standards, testing procedures and instrumentation.
1969-1970 Photosystems Corp. Director of Research.
Responsible for the development oi ultra-high-speed camera systems, three-dimensional x-ray systems and data storage systems. Invented redundant technique for improving the signal-to-noise ratio of information stored and retrieved in micro-fiche records. Proposed method for reducing cost, patient trauma and record volume in angiography.
1970-1971 Physiodata, Inc. Director, Instrumentation Division.
Responsible for the development, application and acquisition of medical instrumentation for sale and utilization in multi-phasic health testing facilities. Developed techniques for the measurement of neonatal cardiac output and for the detection of changes in the elasticity of cerebral vessels.
Professional Affiliations:
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.
Society of Photographic Scientists and Engineers.
Served on the Facsimile Committee of the IRE for five years.
Papers:  

Decomposition of metallic alloys in the presence of low-energy electron beamsDecomposition of metallic alloys in the presence of low-energy electron beams. IRE, Yale, Sept. 1948.

An electrostatic facsimile recorder. Company publication. March 1956.An electrostatic facsimile recorder. Company publication. March 1956.

A method to improve the usefulness of television signals at extreme low illumination levels. Company publication. June 1956.A method to improve the usefulness of television signals at extreme low illumination levels. Company publication. June 1956.

A closed-circuit television viewfinder system for a day photographic reconnaissance fighter type aircraft, (RF-104). J.A. Maurer, private publication. October 1956.A closed-circuit television viewfinder system for a day photographic reconnaissance fighter type aircraft, (RF-104). J.A. Maurer, private publication. October 1956.

A New 70-mm automatically-controlled aerial camera. SPSE Journal. March 1958.A New 70-mm automatically-controlled aerial camera. SPSE Journal. March 1958.

Speech communications between divers and surface vessels. Company publication. March 1959.Speech communications between divers and surface vessels. Company publication. March 1959.

An automatic center-format store. Company publication. September 1960.An automatic center-format store. Company publication. September 1960.

Technical proposal for electronic correlation techniques for target recognition. Company publication. January 1961.Technical proposal for electronic correlation techniques for target recognition. Company publication. January 1961.

Study of the incorporation of sound on transparency. U.S. Naval Training Device Center Publication. April 1961.Study of the incorporation of sound on transparency. U.S. Naval Training Device Center Publication. April 1961.

Automatic Stereo-perception of optical correlation. Company publication. December 1961.Automatic Stereo-perception of optical correlation. Company publication. December 1961.

Analysis and experimental evaluation of change detection techniques. Company publication. May 1962.Analysis and experimental evaluation of change detection techniques. Company publication. May 1962.

The development of a shutterless signaling beacon. U.S.N. Applied Science Lab., publ. June 1962.The development of a shutterless signaling beacon. U.S.N. Applied Science Lab., publ. June 1962.

A compact arc-lamp control system. Company publication. June 1962.A compact arc-lamp control system. Company publication. June 1962.

Optical communications from deep space. Company publication. July 1962.Optical communications from deep space. Company publication. July 1962.

Spatial-bandwidth requirements of a three-dimensional X-ray system. Company Publication. January 1969.Spatial-bandwidth requirements of a three-dimensional X-ray system. Company Publication. January 1969.

Redundancy in micro-film data storage systems. Disclosure for patent application. April 1969Redundancy in micro-film data storage systems. Disclosure for patent application. April 1969

A complete angiogram series on a single plate. Company publication. October 1969.A complete angiogram series on a single plate. Company publication. October 1969.

An evaluation of the present market for automated multiphasic health testing. Company publication. August i970.An evaluation of the present market for automated multiphasic health testing. Company publication. August i970.

Prevention of Neonatal Hypothermia by a fiber-optic AHot Pipe" System: a new concept. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, June 1971.Prevention of Neonatal Hypothermia by a fiber-optic AHot Pipe" System: a new concept. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, June 1971.

Numerous classified papers and articles in automotive journals.

Lectures:  

Fairleigh Dickinson University, 1952-1953
Graphic Communications.
Human Speech as a communication medium.

Rome Air Force Base, 1962
Film as an Information Storage medium.

Suffolk Community College, 1968-1969
The Physics of Human Speech.

USN Underwater Sound Laboratory, New London, Conn., 1966.
Human Speech as a Communication System.

Beth Israel Hospital, Newark, New Jersey, 1970.
Impedance Cardiography, a Non-Invasive Technique for the Measurement of Stroke-Volume and Cardiac-Output.

Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital, Phila., Pa. 1971.
Application of the Impedance Technique to the Detection of Deep Venous Thromboses.

Mensa, New York, N.Y., 1969.
Frontiers of Knowledge.

Honors:  

Summa Cum Laude. Townsend Harris, January 1941.

Commendation for Service. U.S. Navy, 1950.

Awarded Certificate for directing "The most significant scientific development sponsored by the Air Force." September, 1961.

Consulting assignments:
J.A. Maurer. Long Island City, New York

Proposal for a high altitude TV reconnaissance system with automatic image motion compensation.

High information content TV on film recording system for underwater vehicle.

Automatic exposure control for high altitude strategic aircraft.

Vare Industries, Inc., Roselle Park, New Jersey

Design of an optical system for use in air and underwater.

Underwater communication system.

Proposal for a real time speech frequency converter.

Design, study and development of an hydro-photometer for a linear optical dynamic range of 40 db.

Proposal for a twenty channel multiplex control system for a self-propelled underwater exploratory vehicle.

Design and development of a high precision regulated voltage and current supply for an underwater exploratory vehicle.

Moretrend Engineering Co., Rockaway, New Jersey

Study and demonstration of means for reducing the force required to extract large casings from sand in de-watering applications.

S.S. Hunter, Syosset, New York

Development and production of Military-Standard frequency converter for missile test stand.

Star Parts, Inc., South Hackensack, New Jersey

Study of techniques for the electronic production of typeset copy.

Vespa Automobile Co., Italy

An evaluation of the Vespa 400 two cylinder two cycle automobile for sale in the United States.

A. Mason, Inc., Mt. Vernon, New York

Development of a remote thermal detector for monitoring railroad hot boxes.

 

Quiltmaster, Inc., New York, N.Y.

Development of an optical edge control servo system for automatic trimming of quilting.

Study of the effects of moisture absorption in quilting filler material in the radio-frequency sealing equipment losses.

DeLuxe Laboratories, New York, N.Y.

Design of a solid state high impedance input galvanometer amplifier for high speed color film printing control.

Autometric Corporation, Alexandria, Virginia

Electronically controlled pulse arc-lamp system.

Electro Miniatures Corp., South Hackensack, N.J.

Reduction of torque in inertial-guidance system slip-rings.

Eaton-Yale Towne Corp., Philadelphia, Pa.

Evaluation of Electronically controlled fork-lift trucks.

Dietz Co., Wall, New Jersey

Design of an automatic packaging counter.

Photosystems, Inc., Syosset, New York

Study of means to accomplish three-dimensional x-ray recording.

Theoretical study and design of a million picture per second camera system.

Means to improve the signal to noise ratio of film used for data storage.

USN Bureau of Ships, Washington, D.C.

An injection laser communication system.

Reynolds International Inc., Hamilton, Bermuda

Correction of design defect in the power supply for the Aluminaut Submarine.

Ethyl Corporation, Yonkers, New York

The development of an electronic-ignition system for use with variable-compression internal combustion engines with compression ratios up to 20:1.

USN Applied Science Laboratory, Brooklyn, New York

A lightweight power supply for masthead use to provide peak D.C. power output of 5KW. Total weight not to exceed 25 pounds.

Corning Glass Works, Corning, New York

Means for monitoring ship-shaft RPM and direction of rotation using fiber optics.

St. Vincent's Hospital, New York, N.Y.

Measurement of cardiac output in neonates.

Development of a thermal model neonate for research.

Transvenous liver biopsy techniques.

Westinghouse Corporation, Pittsburgh, Pa.

A program for the development and growth of an economically feasible Multi-Phasic Health Testing Facility.

Ideal Precision Meter Co., Brooklyn, New York

Management study to evaluate reason for drop in profits in spite of increase in receipts. Proposal for the establishment of a quality-control facility.

Biometric Testing, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Developed instrument and protocol for shave quality testing. Evaluated electric razors, pre-shave conditioners, razor blades and shaving creams.

Developed instrument and protocol for shampoo tangle testing. Statistical analysis of the data generated for Faberge.

Relationship of cerebral blood flow to cardiac output as modified by drugs.

Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center, The Bronx, N.Y.

Proposal for the electronic differentiation of antigen-antibody bonds. (For the Dept. of Immunohematology).

Low energy dissociation of immunological bonds. (For the Dept. of Hematology).

Proposal for the development of an experimental platelet adhesion monitor for thrombogenesis program. (Dept. of Hematology).

Development of an experimental blood flow chamber.

Proposal to NIH - Improving leukocyte separation yields by chemically induced red-cell aggregation techniques.

Proposal for the establishment of a Health Testing Facility at Rikers Island Prison.

Proposal for the development of an integrated, up-dateable, lifetime medical record system for the North Central Bronx Hospital.

Development of a methodology for modeling New York Municipal Hospital budgets.

Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pa.

An operations management program for acquiring demographic dental data on a sample population of one thousand people. (Department of Dentistry).

Physiology and mensuration of smooth muscle phenomena. (Department of Physiology).

Martin Luther King, Jr. Health Center, Bronx, N.Y.

A method to improve the operating efficiency of the ambulatory care center.

Independent

Independent development of simplified, practical, Celestial Navigation Technique.

 

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Niagara Falls Gazette Sunday
January 24, 1960

Idea Gleaned in Army Blooms Into Business

By JOE HIGGINS
Gazette Staff Writer

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lieutenant kept looking at those little light bulbs on the army's illumated display maps. They bothered him.
    Problem is, he thought, that every time you want to change the position of one of those bulbs, you have to mount a new socket in the map, rearrange the wiring and meticulously cover up the hole left in the map by the old socket.
    This question was asked by R. Gene Brown, now of Ridge Rd., Lewiston, in 1942. Today, 18 years later, he has the answer and a new Niagara Falls business has been started because of it.
    The firm, called B.F. Products Inc., is now in the process of moving into new quarters in the Case-Elderfield Inc. building at 45 Portage Rd. It has a 90-day backlog of orders for custom made illuminated displays and is expanding its sales force in anticipation of more.
    Actually, the breakthrough on the idea of how to electrify an entire map didn't come until 1950. That's when Mr. Brown, then a vice president of the Polychrome Corp., got together with Irwin Franzel, New York City, then a vice president of Winchester Industries.
    The results the two obtained look simple, but the years of work behind those results prove they were anything but simple.
Unique Device
    "This is the first device where you can mechanically couple power without the use of a socket," Mr. Brown said.
    A small map, several feet square, that Mr. Brown carries around with him in a special suitcase, shows how it works. Behind the multi-colored map are two thin sheets of plastic, chemically treated to conduct electricity.
    A businessman (for example) who wants to use the tiny bulbs to show the location of his branch offices merely punches a bulb into the map.
    This is possible because the bulb, instead of having the usual threaded base, has two small pins. The pins pass through the map and pick up power from the plastic plates. Upon removal, the bulbs leave only tiny almost invisible pin holes that require no patching.
Great Possibilities
    It takes no stretch of the imagination to see that if such plastic panels were included in the walls of houses - say to form an electrified wall behind a kitchen counter - that electrical outlets as we know them could become things of the past.
    However, Mr. Brown said, much research and development remains to be done before this idea can become a reality.
    Possibly much nearer to realization is an application of the idea that should be of surefire interest to businessmen. That is use of the panels to eliminate much of the wiring of today's telephone switchboard.
    "We think we can take about 40 percent of the wiring out of most electrical appliances," Mr. Brown said.
    Heading the company are Mr. Brown, who is assistant to the State Power Authority's land acquisition director, president; Mr. Franzel, vice president (that accounts for the B.F.) And Harold Nisserson, president of Harold Furniture House, secretary treasurer.
    The first stock issue, an issue of last March of 65,000 shares of common stock at one dollar a share, was sold out. Sale of the second issue, an issue of last September of 40,000 shares of common stock at $2.50 a share is mostly gone.

 

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