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Published: Friday, 2/15/2008

Local 'glass genius' McMaster honored as a top U.S. inventor

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
McMaster McMaster
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Fortune magazine once dubbed the late Harold McMaster "the glass genius."

And yesterday, the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron named the Perrysburg Township man one of 18 inductees for 2008. Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, and Orville and Wilbur Wright are other members of the hall of fame.

"This year's group of inventors who we're recognizing has discovered innovations that we truly take for granted as we live our daily lives," Fred Allen, vice president for selection, said in a written statement.

Mr. McMaster is to be inducted with other nominees May 2 and 3 in Akron.

He is known as the father of "glass tempering" for his invention of machines that strengthen glass and prevent it from shattering into sharp pieces in traffic crashes and other accidents. The hall cited a 1976 invention with the patent No. 3,994,711.

Mr. McMaster died in 2003. During his lifetime, he received more than 100 patents while at the former Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., Permaglass Inc., Glasstech Inc., and Solar Cells Inc., which was a company he founded that grew into solar-energy industry leader First Solar Inc. of Phoenix.

In 1991, he was in the first group of inductees into the Ohio Science Hall of Fame.

Danny "Jake" Haas, a retired electrician, remembers the excitement of working for Mr. McMaster when he first struck out on his own at a new plant in Genoa in the late 1950s. "They were inventing different ways to bend glass," Mr. Haas said yesterday.

"He was super-friendly. He treated me like I was one of his vice presidents."

Others selected this year for the hall of fame include Nick Holonyak, Jr., who invented the first visible infrared LED light; Ruth Benerito, for her work with wrinkle-free cotton; the late Robert Adler, who invented the first TV remote control; and the late Ray McIntire, inventor of Styrofoam.

Other Hall of Fame members from the Toledo area include Michael J. Owens, inventor of the automatic bottle-making machine, and Owens Corning researchers Dale Kleist, Russell Games Slayter, and John "Jack" Thomas, inventors of fiber glass.

Contact Gary Pakulski at: gpakulski@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.



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