New Jersey Inventors
Hall Of Fame

1993 Award Winners

Hall of Fame

Marc A. Chavannes and Alfred W. Fielding
Sealed Air Corporation, Saddle Brook

Marc A. Chavannes and Alfred W. Fielding developed AirCap air cellular packaging material - air bubbles encapsulated between two layers of plastic film, each containing a barrier layer to retard air loss. Bubble cushioning was clean, cost-effective packaging material providing superior protection from shock and vibration throughout a product's shipping and storage cycle. The development of AirCap packaging material, U.S. patent #3,416,984, was formalized in 1960 when Chavannes and Fielding founded Sealed Air Corporation as a public corporation. Sealed Air specialized in developing the market for "protective packaging" and other uses for the product, including padded shipping envelopes and solarpool covers. Fielding is a 1939 graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology. He has been executive vice president (1960-1985) and served on the Board of Directors (1960-1987) of Sealed Air Corporation. Retired, he currently resides in Kirkland, Wash. Chavannes is a native of Switzerland and spent part of his professional life in the diplomatic service as a judge on the World Court and at the League of Nations before entering business. In the 1930s, he studied physics and chemistry before starting a latex business. Today, Chavannes is retired and lives in Florida.

Charles J. Fletcher
Technology General Corporation, Franklin

While serving as a pilot in the U.S. Navy in Norfolk, Va., Charles J. Fletcher sketched the design for a vehicle envisioned to rise above the water or terrain (approximately 10 inches to two feet) depending on available horsepower. The vehicle would generate an airflow trapped against a uniform surface such as the ground or water, freeing it from the surface and eliminating friction. Positive control and movement would be attained using aircraft control techniques and the release of air. What Fletcher called the "Glidemobile" is known today ad the hovercraft. The hovercraft has proven to be a major advance in military land assault vehicles and modern inter-waterway travel. Hovercrafts are manufactured in the U.S. today and by Bell Aerosystems and sell for between $800,00 and $1.5 million each. Fletcher's claim as an inventor of the hovercraft, undocumented because the U.S. military suppressed the patent to keep the idea a secret, was recently validated during resolution of a lawsuit brought by British Hovercraft Ltd. against the United States, seeking royalties of $104 million. Attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice found a 1960 edition of Design News which featured an article on Fletcher's hovercraft. Fletcher was tracked down and his records on the project which included 16 mm films of the "Glidemobile," documentation regarding his conceptual drawings, subsequent work, model flight trials, and various news articles proved easy to destroy the Hovercraft Ltd. case. Fletcher earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from the academy of Aeronautics at New York Universityin 1950. He holds 17 aeronautical patents on vertical lift and rocket engines plus five additional patents for industrial products.  

Erwin Klingsberg, Ph.D.
American Cyanamid Company, Bound Brook

Wild oats is a weed which infests crops worldwide such as wheat and barley, contributing to the global food crisis. A chemist-inventor with mores than 40 patents, Erwin Klingsberg developed the selective herbicide "Avenge," which effectively controls the wild oat weed, benefitting the economies of countries around the world because it increases both the yields and quality of wheat and barley harvests. In addition to Avenge and dyestuffs, he also developed a cost-effective procedure for analyzing vat dyes. His multi-volume treatise on pyradine chemistry, published in 1960 has remained the standard in the field. Klingsberg was a chemist at American Cyanamid's research laboratories in Bound Brook from 1946 to 1981. He has lectured on his work in many parts of the world and held a number of visiting professorships here and abroad. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester. Retired, he currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Robert W. Lucky, Ph.D., Bellcore, Morristown

Robert W. Lucky developed the adaptive equalizer which corrects signal distortion found in the transmission of data over telephone lines. The device was a quantum leap forward in data transmission technology, quadrupling the speed of transmission from 2400 bits to 9600 bits per second. The adaptive equalizer led to more efficient transmission of voice and data as well as lower cost because of the significant reduction of transmission of time. The device uses a transversal filter which resets automatically during the period preceding the actual transmission. The novel solution to a vexing problem was truly adaptive in that the equalizer changed its own characteristics according to the nature of the pulses in the lines. Lucky also has researched thee methods and technologies for future communication systems, including optical fiber technology, data networks, mobile communication, image processing, and broadband communications technologies and services. The textbook he co-authored on data communications became the most cited reference in the communications field over a 10-year period. His popular book, "Silicon Dreams," is a semi-technical and philosophical discussion of the ways in which both humans and computers deal with information. His latest book is titled "Lucky Strikes Again." Robert Lucky was named Vice President of Applied Research at Bellcore in October 1992 after a 30year career at AT&T Bell Laboratories. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering at Perdue University and was the recipient of the prestigious Marconi Prize for his contributions to data communications in 1987.

Keith D. Millis (1915-1992)
International Nickel Company, Bayonne

During World War II, when many primary metals were in short supply, Keith D. Millis made a discovery that revolutionized the metalworking industry. While searching for a replacement for chromium, a key alloying element is stainless steel, high strength steels, and abrasion resistant irons such as Ni-Hard, he discovered the process for making ductile cast iron. Millis' discovery occurred when he added magnesium to a liquid bath of iron, with dramatic results. After sweeping much of the metal off the floor, he checked the microstructure and found the graphite in a round shape rather than a corn flake shape. Millis hadn't achieved his objective, but rather discovered something more revolutionary. Ductile cast iron is twice as strong as its gray iron parent, and much easier to cast than steel. Millis' discovery changed the world. Because of ductile iron, automobiles have been made better, tractors and bulldozers have increased performance, machine tools are more accurate, and water enters homes more efficiently. It has been said that his discovery may be the one invention in this century which has had the most influence on the metal-working industry. Ductile iron is used world wide and is a multi-billion dollar per year industry. The Ductile Iron Society has sponsored a perpetual scholarship in the name of Keith Dwight Millis for the education of men and women throughout the world. Millis was a graduate of Rensselar Polytechnic Institute.

Sidney Pestka, M.D.
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey / Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway

Dr. Sidney Pestka has made seminal contributions in diverse areas molecular biology including furthering our understanding of how antibiotics work, development of the first biotheraputic - interferon, and development of antisense RNA technology used in genetic engineering to block a single gene. During comprehensive and far-reaching work on antibiotics, he began to research on the anti-viral protein known as interferon. In the process, Dr. Pestka developed not only new technology but fundamental new insights into the field. Interferon therapy helps patients with hairy cell leukemia maintain remission and enjoy a normal life without enduring radiation therapy, bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, splenectomy, or blood transfusions. Interferon therapy also has made significant inroads for treatment of many other malignant tumors and viral diseases. Significant remissions have been observed in chronic myelogenous leukemia, T-cell leukemia, malignant melanoma, renal cell cancer, bladder cell cancer, multiple myeloma, a non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, and AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma. It is the only current treatment for chronic Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Leukocyte Interferon, a rare natural protein estimated to cost $50 million per gram 12 years ago, is now available as practical treatment for various cancers in sufficient amounts to supply all needs. Many patients are alive and well today because of Dr. Pestka's direct contributions. Thousands more will be alive and thriving in the future because of his achievements. Dr. Pestka also revolutionized the purification of proteins through the development of reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), a process now employed by laboratories around the world involved in the isolation and purification of proteins. In 1983, he developed a bold new technique for blocking the expression of single genes in prokaryotic cells with the use of antisense RNA. The discovery has become a commonplace consideration in planning experiments within molecular genetics and developing strategies for the treatment of many diseases. Currently professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at UMDNJ's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., he spent some 16 years working at The Roche Institute of Hoffman-La Roche in Nutley. Dr. Pestka earned a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a doctorate in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Inventors of the Year

Michael J. Flowers
Electric Mobility Corporation, Sewell

Michael J. Flowers, president of the Electric Mobility Corp., developed the "Rascal ConvertAble," a combination three-wheel electric scooter and four-wheel power wheel chair for the physically challenged. Flowers designed an add-on two-wheel front section that could be easily attached (without tools) to a two-wheel take-apart rear section. The result: the " two scooters-in-one" Rascal ConvertAble, offering both a sturdy outdoor three wheel scooter and precision four wheel version allowing the user to drive up to a table to work or eat without needing to swivel the chair or move anything out of the way. The combination achieved the maximum degree of mobility and eliminated the need to buy two separate units. More than 5,000 units of the Rascal ConvertAble have been sold by Electric Mobility Corporation various configurations. Flowers is a graduate of Rutgers University.

Louis L. Grube
GAF Building Material Corporation, Wayne

Louis Grube developed the flame-retardant bitumen, a polyester-based roofing product that uses environmentally safe minerals to achieve flame retardance without sacrificing the integrity of the roofing membrane. The flame-retardant formula is not only safer, but, also cost effective to produce and install, saving both the company and the public considerable funds. Prior to the invention, modified bitumen rolled roofing used a polyester substrate to enhance the tensile strength, elongation, and puncture and tear resistance. Unfortunately, the asphalt, polymer and polyester substrates were flammable. As a result a coating was developed for application upon installation. This added extra materials and labor costs to every roofing project and resulted in the use of bromine-based chemicals which release toxic bromine gas when ignited. Grube developed a formula that featured the mineral colemanite, which is available at a substantially lower cost than competitive formulas and emits mainly environmentally neutral calcium oxide and borate when burned. In addition, the roofing product can be applied without the need for expensive external coatings. The GAF Rubberoid FR product line is now an integral part of the GAF Rubberoid family and is being widely used on commercial buildings that require an Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) or a Factory Mutual (FM) Class A roof. Grube holds five U.S. patents and earned a bachelors degree in chemistry from Pfieffer College in North Carolina. 

Sue Wilson, Ed.D.
Colgate-Palmolive, Piscataway

Sue Wilson developed and patented radically new formulations of liquid and powdered detergents that completely remove oily soil from synthetic fabrics. These formulations resulted in the national launch of both Fresh Start and Dynamo brand products. As a research chemist, Wilson was responsible for product formulation of Fresh Start, FAB, Super Suds, Punch and Axion brand products. She has demonstrated expertise in the study of soil release and antiredeposition agents. Wilson has implemented product improvements for FAB Softergent powder and liquid, FAB OneShot, Dynamo and Ajax powder and liquid, and helped achieve more than $25 million in increased profitability for her company. Wilson is a recipient of the N.J. National Council of Negro Women Industry Award, the Tribute to Women in Industry (TWIN) Award and the Harlem YMCA Black Acheivers in Industry Award. She earned a bachelor's degree from North Carolina Central College and master's degree and doctorate from Rutgers University. She is currently manager of Colgate Palmolive's household products division and is involved with strategic planning and the administration of a $20 million research budget.

Special Citations

Spirit of Innovation
Bonnie L. James, Cherica Inc., Tuckerton

While feeding 2-month-old Jessica Lee in 1989, Bonnie L. James conceived the idea for "Bottle Pals," baby bottle holders that are amusing, educational and appealing to both mothers and children, and more importantly, which makes feeding baby easy and fun. "Bottle Pals," brightly colored stuffed animas with holes in their middles to hold a baby bottle, supports the bottle while amusing the infant at the same time. In addition, they help promote hand-eye coordination and are said to promote relaxation and better digestion for the baby. Currently, "Bottle Pals" are sold at J.C. Penney, Toys-R-Us, and Child World, among other retailers. "Bottle Pals" are available in four designs (bear, duck, dog and bunny). The plush is currently manufactured in China and the bottle in Hong Kong and has been selling on both national and international markets.

Enduring Popularity
Italo Marchiony (1868-1954), Hoboken

Italo Marchiony arrived in Hoboken from Italy in 1895 and sold ice cream and lemon ice from a pushcart on New York's Wall Street. He used liquor glasses to serve his confections to stockbrokers and Wall Street runners. But the glasses proved and encumbrance - many broke or were taken and had to be washed after each serving. Marchiony devised a better way to serve ice cream - an edible cup known today as the ice cream cone. Marchiony baked waffles and while still warm, folded them into the shape of a cup. The customers relished the cups which proved convenient, sanitary and tasty. The waffle cup made Marchiony the most popular vendor on Wall Street and soon afterward, he had a chain of 45 carts operated by men he hired. Ice cream in a cup became known as a "toot," which many have been derived from the Italian word "tutti" or "all," as customers were urged to "Eat it all," ice cream and waffle cup. Unfortunately, or unfortunately for Marchiony, the hand-made cups couldn't keep up with the demand. Marchiony needed a device for mass production. So he had adapted the design of the waffle iron to accept batter and bake it in the shape of the waffle cups. At first, it was difficult to make the fragile cups out of the mold without breaking them. He solved the problem by dividing the bottom half of the mold, to separate it from the baked cups. Instead of one mold for each cup, he arranged two rows of five in each mold to produce 10 cups at a time. Marchiony applied for a patent in 1902 and it was awarded in 1903, U.S. Patent No. 746,971. In 1904, Marchiony took his confection to the Louisiana Exposition in St. Louis. While there, he ran out of his patented cups and asked a waffle maker in the next booth to roll the waffles in to the shape of a cone. Because of the success at the Exposition, the idea of an edible ice cream container spread throughout the country. Marchiony's company thrived at 219 Grand Street in Hoboken, turning out ice cream cones and wafers until his plant was destroyed by fire in 1934. He retired from his business in 1938 and died in 1954 at the age of 86.

Corporate Inductee

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Princeton

Created in 1989 by the merger of New Jersey -based Squibb Corporation and New York-based Bristol-Myers, the company was selected for sustained development of quality health care products. Bristol Myers Squibb has developed major products for the treatment of cardiovascular problems, cancer, infectious diseases, central nervous system disorders, and is dermatological maladies, diagnostic agents, and women's health care products. Bristol-Myers Squibb researchers were pioneers in the area of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, a novel class antihypertensive agents. The synthesis of Captopril, the first orally active ACE inhibitor, established the key role of angiotensin in the mechanisms of hypertension and opened a fresh new field of research - ACE inhibition. Captopril has been sold as Capoten since 1981 and is one of the most successful drugs ever marketed. The company added a second ACE inhibitor, Monopril, in 1991. Azactam, an antibacterial agent first marketed in 1987, represents a novel class of antibiotics known as monobactams. The invention of monobactams followed the design and implementation of a unique screen that isolated the bacteria's nucleus. In the 1950s and 1960s, the company made important contributions to the field of dermatology from its New Jersey laboratories. Taxol, a promising anti-cancer drug effective against refractory ovarian cancer as well as breast and lung cancers, recently won approval by the FDA. Another drug in the field of infectious diseases is Videx, used in the treatment of AIDS. Princeton is home to Bristol-Myers Squibb's U.S. Pharmaceutical Group and the company's research institute. For the past 15 years, the company has sponsored an Unrestricted Grants program which has provided more than 100 scientists with no-strings attached grants for biomedical research.