Updated 04-I-2019

Richard N. Thayer

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

George E. Inman and Richard N. Thayer, testing an early fluorescent lamp in 19361

Dick Thayer was a native of Pittsburgh, PA. He was a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh in 1928. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.

Thayer joined GE at Nela Park in 1928 as a development engineer. His investigations regarding coiling machines in the 1930s revealed that he was an investigator of the first rank. His approach to problems and his documentation were atypical of engineers, both before and since that time. Some of his work was aimed at finding the causes of "hotspots" in the coiling of wire.

Because of his careful attention to detail and his competence in the execution of plans, Thayer was given the task of determining design characteristics of the new fluorescent lamps and he monitored much of the testing of the lamps.

Thayer was named Assistant to the Technical Director of the Lamp Development Laboratory in 1945. That appointment was followed by one in 1950 to Supervisor of Product Design and Quality. In 1955 Thayer was called to serve as Manager of Discharge Lamp Design Engineering and then in 1964 was named Manager of Fluorescent Engineering.

Thayer married and had three daughters.

  1. "Lamp Inventors 1880-1940 : Fluorescent Lamp", Lighting A Revolution, Smithsonian National Museum of American History.