Lasting Legacies. By Tom Griffin and John Marmor
UW Inventions and Discoveries
During your morning routine, you might turn on your color TV to catch the latest news, start up your personal computer's operating system to check e-mail, spend 20 minutes jogging on your electronic treadmill and brush your teeth with a sonic toothbrush. In the first hour of your day, you've already used four inventions created by UW alumni and faculty. Here's our list of significant UW inventions and discoveries that have had an impact on our lives.
Willard Geer. Photo courtesy Chuck Geer.
Willard Geer
Photo courtesy Chuck Geer

Color TV Tube
The process that brought us color television-three beams of electrons (one for each primary color) fired on a screen of small, inverted pyramids, was invented by Willard Geer, a 1927 physics graduate of the UW.

PC Operating Systems
Before there was MS-DOS, there was CP/M and QDOS. CP/M is recognized as the first practical operating system for personal computers, written by Gary Kildall, '67, '72. Then there is QDOS, written by Tim Paterson, '78, when he was a repair technician for Seattle Computer Products. That company sold QDOS to Microsoft for $50,000. Bill Gates and Paul Allen renamed it MS-DOS, convinced IBM to use it as the operating system for its first personal computers, and built the Microsoft empire on what became the industry standard.

Lauren Donaldson. File photo.
Lauren Donaldson

Donaldson Trout and Salmon
Using selective breeding and nutrition programs, Fisheries Professor Lauren Donaldson, '31, developed a "super trout" that matured twice as fast, weighed 10 pounds and produced many more eggs than normal fish. He also created a completely artificial salmon run and spawning ground at the UW on Portage Bay—the first salmon hatchery in an urban setting.

Ceramic Tiles for the Space Shuttle
With the tiles on the early space shuttles failing in the 2000-plus-degree heat during re-entry, Engineering Professors James Mueller and John Bollard, along with other UW scientists and students, devised solutions to fix the problem: strengthening the tile material itself and toughening the base of the tile to provide stronger load paths from the tile bottom surface to the surface of the vehicle.

Did You Know

... that the University of Washington Alumni Association was the first alumni association founded in the Pacific Northwest and also has the largest dues-paying membership. A small group of alumni came together in 1889 to launch an organization that supports the UW and promotes fellowship among its graduates.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
UW Professors David Smith and Ann Streissguth and student Kenneth Jones published the first definition of fetal alcohol syndrome and its characteristic physical and behavior features. They also created new screening methods for the condition.

Astronaut Edwin Aldrin wears a 'hard' spacesuit during the historic 1969 landing on the moon. Photo courtesy NASAAstronaut Edwin Aldrin wears a "hard" spacesuit during the historic
1969 landing on the moon. Photo courtesy NASA
Hard Spacesuit
An electrical engineer, alumnus Siegfried Hansen, '33, came up with the hard spacesuit NASA has used in space missions. He is called the father of E.V.A. (extravehicular activity).

Pacific Oyster Industry
UW Professor Treavor Kincaid, Class of 1899, established the Pacific oyster industry and years later UW Fisheries Professor Kenneth Chew developed the triploid oyster, which doesn't become soft and mushy during summer spawning season. These oysters are larger than normal and can be marketed all year long.

Mark 9 Torpedo Exploder
Working with the U.S. Navy to come up with a more reliable exploder for torpedoes, UW Physicist Joe Henderson created the Mark 9 Torpedo Exploder in 1945, a significant improvement that would only detonate when it was under the keel of the target ship.

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