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Welcome to Kollmorgen's Blog in Motion. We have been adding information and knowledge to the great web based world for many years - through white papers, technical documents, and even webinars. Kollmorgen enjoys sharing our knowledge with you, as well as identifying other motion related tidbits through our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube feeds. Our newest source is Blog in Motion, covering a wide range of topics, as well as some interesting contributing authors with lots of Motion experience. If Motion Matters to you, stop by, follow, like, and sign up so you can stay tuned for what Kollmorgen has in store for you!
Today’s blog is part of a Throw Back Thursday post – about an article I wrote for SubNotes magazine back in 1988. At the time we had completed a number of submersible motor applications for some very unique and tough environments. Applications with interesting names like Alvin, Jason Jr, or Robin – the first, a manned research vehicle at the time operated by Woodshole Oceanographic Institute, the other two, remotely operated submersibles used to explore the wreck of the Titanic, among other adventures.
Quick recap form our last post: In 1948, the company called Inland was formed by an out-of-work immigrant whose net worth was approximately $4000. Six employees ran the facility in the basement and garage of the Unruh home. The company's first employee, Tom Bain, described conditions there as "quite crude". He recalls the cold triple garage and the problems posed by a leaky basement after a spring rain. Just about a year later - Hugo moves to Pear River and by 1957, the plant is bursting at the seams with 60 employees and a growing workload. Now let's continue…
There has been a lot of discussion over the years as to who created the stepping motor, or at least the industrial 1.8° motor we know today. The two relevant companies involved with the design were Superior Electric, originally in Bristol Connecticut, and Sigma Instruments, originally in Braintree, Massachusetts. Although Superior Electric seems to have the leading edge as being the first, it appears that Sigma Instruments may have been the true innovator.
So up until now, we've seen how a couple of German immigrants came to America and turned their dreams into a reality. Fredrick came to America at the turn of the Century, Hugo a few decades later, and now Otto Kollmorgen had the reins of Kollmorgen firmly in his hands. Just how did these two companies come together? Here is a first hand account from Herb Torberg (Chief Engineer, Kollmorgen). "In the late 1950's, Kollmorgen was very busy updating submarine periscope features capabilities. Submarines were going deeper, faster and the capabilities of the periscope were greatly expanded. Included was the need to take better photographs, including sextant navigation, provide Passive electronic countermeasure, and to aid the operator in training (turning) the periscope."
All those permanent magnet DC motors, synchronous motors, servo motors, servo drives, stepper drives, oh yeah, and remember the great stepper motors they offered? The one stepper motor was a weird shape. It was octagonal where others are square or round. Hard to forget that one!
While all of this work by Fredrick Kollmorgen was going on another immigrant, named Hugo Unruh, was growing up in Germany. About the same age as Frederick’s son Otto, Hugo faced the harsh conditions in post WWI Germany with its rampant inflation and struggling economy. His family encouraged him to emigrate to the United States so he could realize his dreams.
Hugo was partially educated in Germany, but finished high school and two years of college while in the US. To help get through school, Hugo worked as a repairman at an X-Ray company.
Prior to leaving Europe, Fredrick became the proud father of a baby boy – Ernest Otto. This would be the first of three children, the other girls (Hildegard and Dorthea). From various records, I can only piece together a few bits of information regarding the early 1900’s. It appears Frederick’s wife (Agnes Hunt), an English woman, whom he married in Italy, traveled back and forth to the United States from England, bringing the children over at certain times. Otto was born in 1901 and came to the US in 1907, two years after Fredrick immigrated. Hildegard, was born in 1903 and followed to the US in 1910. Finally, Otto’s youngest sister, Dorthea, was born in 1914 in Italy –right in the midst of World War I.
Over the next few months, we will be publishing a blog series about how Kollmorgen evolved from its humble beginnings to today. Follow us on this journey and learn about the visionaries that built the foundation of our company.
Turn back time – to the 1900’s, the turn of the century, the industrial revolution in full force. A young man who was skilled in optics left his homeland of Germany to work under the auspices of optics pioneer, Karl Reichert in Vienna. Frederick Kollmorgen decided to bring his skills to America, passing through London with a brief stint with Ross, Ltd. Kollmorgen settled in New York, providing optic skills for Keuffel & Esser, who manufactured drafting and surveying instrumentation.
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