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Title Partners in Creating. The First Century of K+E 1867/1967.
Object Name Pamphlet
Catalog Number 2009.006.0022.02
Collection Keuffel & Esser Company Collection
Credit Museum Collections. Gift of a friend of the Museum.
Scope & Content Partners in Creating. The First Century of K+E [Keuffel & Esser] 1867/1967.

A history of the Keuffel & Esser Company on its centennial including the establishment in 1880 in Hoboken of offices and factory. (It ceased Hoboken operations circa 1968-1969.)

see archives 2009.006.0022 for primary record and text from beginning to page 15

see archives 2009.006.0022.01 for text of pages 15 to 25
see archives 2009.006.0022.02 for text of pages 26 to 30
see archives 2009.006.0022.03 for text of pages 31 to end
(The text in notes is broken into sections due to online database format limitations.)
Notes Archives 2009.006.0022.02
Partners in Creating. The First Century of K+E [Keuffel & Esser] 1867/1967.
text only of pages 25 to 30

see archives 2009.006.0022 for primary record and text from beginning to page 15

see archives 2009.006.0022.01 for text of pages 15 to 25
see archives 2009.006.0022.03 for text of pages 31 to end


page 25

ordering double and triple the quantity of rules they had ordered in previous years. The Army and Navy soon set up accelerated training programs which increased the demand even further.

The immediate demand for high-grade rules could be met because K&E had a large stock of seasoned mahogany blanks and was able to put production on two and three shifts. To meet the temporary training need, K&E greatly increased production of beginners' slide rules. Eventually the War Production Board took over the allocation of K&E's entire production of slide rules.

To a large extent, drawing instruments and surveying instruments also required emergency production measures. K&E was the only manufacturer able to move quickly into production of high-grade drawing instruments. The Minusa® drawings and specifications of a quarter-century before were still in the company's files. They enabled production to get under way smoothly in 1939. The demand was so great, however, that a supplementary line, Mercury® drawing instruments, also was manufactured in Chicago. The first Mercury sample sets went out to K&E branches on March 25,1941.

A great many special surveying instruments and similar devices also had to be made quickly. Interferometers, collimators, balloon theodolites, anti-aircraft gunsights, magnifying telescopes, bomb sight telescopes, drift meters, planimeters, and peep sights, as well as components and engineering assistance furnished to other government contractors, kept K&E engineers and craftsmen at work night and day. Every minute counted. To shorten the time required for meals, the Navy took over an area in one wing of a rented building and installed a cafeteria for K&E employees working on military projects. Lunch-periods were cut from an hour to 30 minutes.

Eight months after Pearl Harbor, K&E celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary. The occasion was marked by a simple ceremony during the noon hour at which every employee was presented with a twenty-five dollar war bond. Then everybody went back to work.

By the war's end, K&E had received the Army-Navy "E" award seven times for excellence and efficiency in production. Only 13 other plants, out of more than 85,000 engaged in war production, won the "E" as many times. Only five percent received the award even once.

After V-J Day, there was still no time to rest. K&E became involved in new technology on a broader and deeper scale than anyone might have predicted. New challenges and new opportunities, created in war-time, opened the prospect of greater growth for the company than ever before in its history.


[caption photo lower right]

K&E wins an Army-Navy "E" award — one of seven the company received during World War II.


page 26

K&E Presidents... and Their Contributions

[photo portrait of each man accompanies the text about him]

W. J. D. Keuffel — Co-founder of K&E with Hermann Esser, he accurately foresaw growth of technology following the Civil War. Always an op-Vtimist, he let this insight guide him and planned for swift expansion of the K&E product line. With Hermann Esser, he established a tradition of craftsmanship coupled with an innovating spirit in product design. He assumed the company presidency in 1902, following Hermann Esser's retirement.

W. G. Keuffel — Son of the founder, he was president from 1908 to 1942. His business policies were founded on his father's motto: "The best; first, last, and always." As president, he headed a team of K&E executives who led the company successfully through the Depression and two world wars. In the same period, K&E expanded its product line to thousands of different items and its distributor network to scores of cities in the U. S. and Canada.

C. M. Bernegau — His influence stimulated company growth during the difficult Depression years. He became president in 1942, in a period of stresses brought by war. Under his leadership, K&E achieved true stature as an instrument manufacturer, and built a tough, resilient production team, tempered by the rigorous demands of war, ready to meet the new demands of peace.

Karl Keller — Becoming president in 1946, he set about reorienting the company to a new technical and industrial environment. Company operations were decentralized. Manufacturing functions were regrouped to take advantage of specialized facilities at a number of locations. At the same time, K&E initiated a long-term program of product diversification.

C. W. Keuffel — As president from 1950 to 1961, he gave impetus to an extensive research and development program. His scientific and engineering background enabled him to make valuable contributions to product design as well as R&D organization. Under his leadership, K&E became active in new fields such as miniaturization and optical metrology.

A. E. Busch — President since 1961. Keuffel & Esser Co. has experienced its most rapid period of growth under his presidency. It has been a period marked by emphasis on science-oriented technology, a diversification of product lines, a strengthening of marketing position in the United States and overseas. Perhaps the most significant event of all was: his direction of the company toward public ownership in 1965, with the new attitudes and flexibility which this step created.


page 27

Into the Jet Age

As the nation began to adjust to peacetime after World War II, a new era began. It was a radically different environment than any the world had ever known. Over 90 per cent of the engineers and scientists who had ever lived were alive at the moment. And they were shifting our technology into high gear, moving us into a fabulous period where speed and accuracy would grow respectively greater and more refined.

Out of wartime aircraft development came the wonderfully efficient jet airplane, pushing quickly up to the speed of sound and beyond. And with the jet plane, came the need for accuracies in design and assembly never before required. Length measurements were needed to an accuracy of one part in 200,000. Angles had to be read to one second of arc (the angle created between the top and bottom edges of a dime, standing on edge a mile distant.)

Keuffel & Esser, for most of its history a skilled instrument maker, saw in the new technology a need for a new breed of optical instrumentation. During the war, surveying instruments had been pressed into duty for alignment work in industry, replacing with an optical "line of sight" the former tightly stretched piano wire used to align large pieces of equipment, jigs, and fixtures. There was clearly a need for a more sophisticated line of equipment specifically made for this type of "industrial surveying." In the late 1940's K&E began to introduce items of what it was to call its Optical Tooling line. These were a series of powerful telescopic instruments which established a reference line of sight, from which measurements were made by optical micrometers using special targets and scales.

Optical tooling and alignment equipment was to become one of the hardiest of the post-war K&E innovations, quickly establishing itself as a required working tool in any industry where the accuracies were of a high order, the distances lengthy, and the equipment to be positioned large. Optical tooling and alignment equipment was quickly adopted by the pioneering airframe industry. It also helped build the post-war generation of ocean vessels, put giant paper production machines into ideal alignment, and eventually helped in such prodigious alignment tasks as Stanford University's two-mile long, absolutely straight linear accelerator.


[caption photo top right]

The Boeing 707 jet transport, one of the pioneering jet aircraft built with the aid of K&E optical tooling.


[caption photo bottom right]

With optical telescopes, line of sight replaced the traditional piano wire methods, to erect and position huge jigs, fixtures and machinery.


page 28

As K&E increasingly became a specialist in the fields of fine optics and industrial measurement, another evolution was to take place which would place the company in the midst of space age technology which began with the dramatic Russian Sputnik I in 1957 and sped to new achievements with each succeeding year.

In the year 1959, the company formed a new group of specialists known as the Optics and Metrology Division. Essentially an R&D team, the O&M facilities brochure described its role as "specializing in the development and manufacture of optical, mechanical, and electronic systems for the precise measurement of lengths and angles."

Out of this division were to come some significant advances in the state of the art of metrology. The list included such achievements as the Electronic Tilt-Angle Transducer, which measured and monitored angular deviation to 1 /4 second of arc; the optical reference units for the Polaris missile-launching submarine; the optical monitoring system for the giant Haystack antenna.

A feat of major importance was the development of an ultra-high-performance cinetheodolite for missile tracking at the White Sands Missile Range. This unit will sight, track and film an object about the size of a basketball at distances up to 220,000 feet, with an accuracy of two seconds of arc.

Equivalent skill was demonstrated in the development of a "star simulator" delivered to the Air Force in 1965. This test complex was designed to duplicate the exact light frequency and intensity of guide post stars in space, thereby helping check out the star tracking units to be used in the guidance of manned space vehicles. The K&E optical-electronic complex would accurately duplicate here on earth operating conditions utilized to navigate in the outer heavens.

The post-war decades brought new sophistication and accelerated change to the job of the engineer. K&E called upon its resources to supply the needed tools.


[caption photo lower left]

Built for the Apollo program, the star simulator test complex (to which K&E contributed the optical-electronic systems) accurately reproduced starlight as it would appear in outer space.


[caption photo top right]

A major research and development project of the 1960's was the K&E missile-tracking cinetheodolite.


page 29

The Growth of Systems

In the 20 years after the second World War, life for the engineer grew not only more exacting (as to accuracies) and more demanding (as to schedules), but vastly more complex.

There was a time when a single man could know virtually everything about a big engineering job. That time vanished with the new technology. Engineers had to invent a new way of dealing with such mammoth projects as a space program. They did it by thinking up a new way of thinking — and called it systems engineering.

Simply stated, it was a way of planning and dividing work to achieve orderly completion of extremely complicated projects. Systems analysis became a common working tool.

At K&E systems became a new way of looking at products and product lines. New ideas were considered in the light of how they fit in with existing systems, how they would smooth work flow on complex jobs.

As a result, several innovations were to emerge from the Research and Marketing groups, product systems which made life easier for the busy, deadline-burdened, modern engineer.

In the year 1952, K&E began experimenting with a new DuPont polyester film (Mylar®) that had excellent strength, water resistance, and dimensional stability.

The problem was to bond working surfaces to this almost inert synthetic in such a way that they would adhere completely. K&E was the first to solve this problem, and introduced in 1954 a product line known as Stabilene® film.

And Stabilene was a system — not a single product, but dozens (later to become hundreds) of integrated, specialized drafting and reproduction surfaces.


[caption top right photo]

STABILENE film began a new system for mapmakers


[caption bottom right photo]

. . . soon was adopted by industry where it began to revolutionize the techniques of precision drafting.


page [30]

caption for full page illustration (rocket on launch pad): Enormously complex projects such as the missile and space programs fostered a new breed of systems engineer.


see archives 2009.006.0022.03 for text of pages 31 to end.
People Keuffel, W.J.D.
Keuffel, W.G.
Keuffel, Carl W.
Keller, Karl
Bernegau, Carl M.
Busch, Alfred E.
Date 1967-1967
Year Range from 1967
Year Range to 1967
Search Terms Keuffel & Esser Co.
K & E
Third St.
Adams St.
Classification Buildings
Business & Commerce