Lab Canada

Founder of Beckman Instruments dies at age 104

Fullerton, CA – May 25, 2004 – Arnold Orville Beckman, PhD, founder and chairman emeritus of Beckman Instruments (now known as Beckman Coulter) died last week at age 104.

He was born the son of a blacksmith on April 10, 1900 in Cullom, Ill and became the friend of world leaders. Of all his scientific innovations, Dr Beckman was perhaps best known for inventing the pH meter, an instrument that changed an industry and served as the foundation for the company that still bears his name.

In addition to his business and scientific achievements, Dr Beckman was recognized as a great philanthropist. Through the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which he formed with his wife, Mabel, in 1977, he contributed more than US$400 million in support of scientific research and education.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and master’s degree in physical chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his doctorate in photochemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA, where he taught from 1928 until 1940. He founded Beckman Instruments in 1935 with his first commercial product he invented, the pH meter. It earned him a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1987. In total, he registered 14 patents.

Dozens of awards and honors attest to the admiration of Dr Beckman’s peers in science, industry and philanthropy. Most recently, he was given the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame and his pH meter, one of Beckman’s revolutionary inventions, was designated as a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society. During his life he was recognized for his accomplishments by many, including two American presidents. President Reagan presented him with the 1988 National Medal of Technology and the 1989 Presidential Citizens Medal. President Bush awarded him the 1989 National Medal of Science. In 1999, Beckman received the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

Upon his death, Beckman Coulter’s chairman and chief executive officer, John P Wareham said, "Although Arnold Beckman retired many years ago, he continued to live on in the culture here at Beckman Coulter. His humor, integrity and wisdom were a source of inspiration for employees, making all who met him proud to be a part of the company that is his legacy."

He is survived by his son, Arnold Stone Beckman, daughter Patricia Beckman, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His wife Mabel Meinzer Beckman died in 1989.