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THE ELECTROCHEMICAL SOCIETY: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS, 1902 - 2002
The Electrochemical Society, Inc.
Pennington, NJ 08534-2839, USA
WWW Home Page:
The Electrochemical Society (ECS) has a birthplace of
historic distinction – Philadelphia – the home of
Benjamin Franklin (and his famous kite) and the
birthplace of the United States. The Society originally
was called the American Electrochemical Society, but,
like the nation, it had its roots in distant lands. ECS
was like the nation in other respects. It was a melting pot; in
this case, a melting pot of scientific and technological disciplines,
and of their adherents, who came from countries from
Australia to Mexico to Russia and points in between.
The following photo essay is a distillation of the Society’s
history – the usual dates, names, and significant markers, but
also some amusing anecdotes and intriguing photographs.
We hope you will enjoy this quick look at a society that has
made its mark on the world of electrochemistry and solid-state
science and technology.
The Society’s roots can be traced farther back in time than
when our story begins. Relics found in the Middle East suggest
that, thousands of years ago, voltaic cells were being used. Electroplating of some sort is known to have existed in those times as well.
1800 --- Alessandro Volta concluded that a “pile” of dissimilar
metals provided the electricity responsible for the twitching
of frogs’ legs reported by Galvani.
1815 --- Humphry Davy used a group of these “piles” to discover and isolate the elements potassium, sodium, and calcium.
Davy also coined the term “electrochemical.”
1831 --- Michael Faraday was led to formulate the laws of electrolysis and was the first to use the terms anode, cathode, electrode, ion, cation, anion, and electrolyte. He was the first
to propose that the passivation of iron in concentrated nitric acid was due to the formation of an oxide film.
1856 --- William Perkin invented the first synthetic dye. The Society of Chemical Industry instituted the Perkin Medal in
his honor in 1906, and ECS is one of six societies able to nominate
candidates for the award.
1879 --- Thomas Edison patented the carbon-thread incandescent lamp. This man of many talents (and patents!) joined ECS in 1903.
1886 --- Charles M. Hall in the United States and Paul L. T. Heroult in France (both became ECS members) simultaneously
inaugurated electrolytic processes that had great industrial
importance: the production of aluminum.
| A wonderful drawing of Edward Weston’s company in Newark, NJ, where the first dynamo was made. |
1888 --- Edward Weston formed the Weston Electrical
Instrument Co. Weston invented the “Weston Cadmium Cell”, which became the voltage standard throughout the world,
and which is depicted in the Society’s official seal. In 1873,
Weston had adapted the electric generator for electroplating,
the first important industrial application of electrochemistry
1890 --- Herbert Dow started the Midland Chemical Co., the first to use electrolytic apparatus to commercially manufacture
a chemical other than metal; in this case, to extract bromine from brine.
1891 --- Edward Acheson discovered silicon carbide, which he called carborundum, a better abrasive than any other known
substance except diamond.
1901 --- Edison formed a battery company and marketed a rechargeable nickel-iron battery. At one time, Edison had a
rather dim view of rechargeable batteries, judging from a
quote attributed to him: “The storage battery is… a mechanism
for swindling the public by stock companies…
Scientifically, storage is all right, but, commercially, as
absolute a failure as one can imagine.”
By the beginning of the 20th century, many talented individuals
had invented and were building the foundations and
infrastructures for the communications, electronics, illumination,
and entertainment revolutions that would come to play
such important roles in our lives and in the yet-to-be formed
| Faraday |
| Hall |
| Heroult |
| Edison |
| Dow |
| The Manufacturers’ Club – site of the founding
meeting of The Electrochemical Society.|
| Reed |
| Richards |
The first Tyrannosaurus rex fossil was discovered
by the famous fossil hunter Barnum Brown.
Feeling the need for a forum at which electrochemical
matters could be discussed and argued,
some members of the American Chemical Society
(ACS) proposed the formation of a new section devoted
to the field of electrochemistry. ACS demurred.
One man, C. J. Reed, was especially interested in creating
a new society as such a forum, and gained the
support of Joseph W. Richards, a prominent professor
of metallurgy at Lehigh University. A letter was sent
to about 30 engineers, chemists, and scientists, soliciting
members for the new society. The qualifications
for membership were rather simple – express an interest
in electrochemistry and pay the $5 annual dues.
The first meeting of the American
Electrochemical Society was held
at the Manufacturers’ Club in
Philadelphia on April 3, 1902;
it was attended by 52 of the 337
charter members. A motion to
organize passed unanimously.
Richards, the acting chairman, was
elected president; Reed as secretary;
P. G. Salom as treasurer; and
six vice-presidents and seven
“managers” also were elected. This
leadership represented a
good mix of scientific
and technological disciplines
and indicated from
the start that the term
encompass a broader
range of interests than
the name implied.
The original constitution
called for publication
of papers presented
at the meetings and of
the discussions that
ensued; this was accomplished in 1902 with the new
publication, Transactions of the American
Marie Curie (Physics 1903) and Pierre Curie (Physics 1903) shared the Nobel Prize and the Wright brothers made the first powered flight.
John Ambrose Fleming invented the vacuum diode tube.
The international ties were strengthened when
the sixth Society meeting was jointly sponsored
with the Bunsen Gesellschaft and the Faraday
Society. The Board discussed a request from members
at the University of Wisconsin, asking to form
the Society’s first Local Section, which would come
to fruition in 1907. (The “Local” was dropped in
| Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. (From Vol.
54 of the Transactions.)|
J. J. Thomson discovered the electron and Lee
de Forest invented the triode vacuum tube.
| Chandler |
The 10th meeting was held at
Columbia University. Professor Charles
F. Chandler, dean of American
chemists, welcomed the gathering: “Mr.
President and fellow members of the
youngest scientific organization in
this country, which, I think, may
prove the most important… You
have already worked a revolution
in many branches of chemical
industry and seem destined to
change entirely the character of a
large proportion of chemical
Chandler would later be
named the first Honorary
Member of the Society.
One of the popular features of the 10th meeting
was an “excursion” to Thomas Edison’s Laboratory
in West Orange, New Jersey. Edison had been
approached earlier, but declined. This time, Edison
agreed, and in response to a letter confirming that
the Society would schedule an excursion, Edison
noted to his secretary, “Say it will be all right but I
have very little that will be interesting.”
| Baekeland |
ECS member Leo Baekeland developed Bakelite,
the first synthetic plastic that could be molded into
durable products. In 1995, the Jupiter probe used a
form of Baekeland’s invention for its heat shield.
The four-page monthly American Electrochemical
Society Bulletin began circulation to the membership.
It contained such things as lists of individuals
applying for membership, newly elected members,
information on meetings, situations wanted, positions
available, and general news of interest to
members. Many issues contained listings of patents
of interest to electrochemists, as well as book
reviews. The Bulletin was discontinued in 1948,
with the appearance of the Journal of The
Henry Ford introduced the Model T car.
| Miller |
The agenda for the 1910 fall meeting included an
evening smoker with entertainment by SECTION
Q. The special “section" was apparently organized
by the Canadian W. Lash Miller to “promote intimacy
and friendship.” It seems that Miller provided
all members at the initial meeting of Section Q
with lighted candles and at the appropriate time
there was a lighted procession to visit a laboratory.
This was reported to have resulted in much joviality
– one wonders why, but perhaps it was the bagpipers
who led the procession. Lawrence Addicks,
in his Fiftieth Anniversary address, recounted a
number of other Section Q shenanigans. One was the bribing of two New York City policemen to accompany two hired vaudeville actors in staging a
mock raid on a technical session in the Chemists’
Club, to the horror of Carl Hering, “the embodiment
of gentlemanly reserve.”
The First Emblem Of The Society, a
handsome blue enamel and gold pin (pictured at left), was made by
Tiffany of New York.
At the spring meeting in Atlantic City,
Technical Committees were established to consider
and report on topics related to electrochemistry.
The first ten were: Primary Batteries, Secondary
Batteries, Electric Furnaces, Electrolysis,
Electroanalysis, Electrometallurgy, Electroplating,
Radioactivity, Chlorine and Caustic, and Experimental and Theoretical Electrochemistry.
At the invitation of the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition, the Society journeyed to
San Francisco for its 28th meeting. The Society was
welcomed officially by the management and presented
with a commemorative medal (pictured above).
Einstein published the general theory of relativity.
With the advent of World War I, the Society was
asked for its opinion on such weighty matters as
the optimum size for the navy and how to defend
against submarine attacks on U.S. shipping.
The purpose of the Appalachian South Meeting
was to tour electrochemical centers in that region
for the education of northern and western members.
It was necessary to get the permission of the
Director-General of Railroads (the war was still on)
to use a special train. Everywhere the party
went it was received with “distinguished
consideration”. At some places the railway
stations were decorated with bunting and banners
of welcome stretched across the streets. At others,
school children waving flags lined up on the
pavement and greeted the party with cheers. The
trip included the interesting experiment of “ducking
in flour for coins” (pictured at left).
The Colin Fink Era...
| Fink |
Shortly after the fall meeting, Joseph W.
Richards died suddenly. The Society held
an extraordinary meeting in his memory
in New York City. The Society now
needed a secretary as dedicated to
its needs as was Richards.
Fortunately, Colin C. Fink, who
had also served as president, was
such a man. Fink was a hands-on,
take-charge kind of person. The
Society was equally fortunate that
during Fink’s 26-year tenure,
Columbia University not only allowed
Fink to pursue his duties as secretary but
provided sufficient office space to
house the Society’s operations.
The Society’s bylaws were
changed to provide for the formation
of the Divisions, with representation
on the Board. Members
were allowed to register for membership
in any Division of interest.
The roots of the High Temperature Materials
Division (HTM) trace back to 1921, when it was
founded as the Electrothermics Division, the first
formalized division of the Society.
The Electrodeposition Division was officially
formed at the spring meeting, but the first important
symposium on the science of electroplating was recorded in the 1913 volume of the
The fall meeting was held in Montreal.
Prohibition was the law of the land in the U.S., and
the Canadian venue was perhaps an attractive one
for those who enjoyed a little wine with dinner. An
old-fashioned smoker was on the program, and
given the venue and the convivial atmosphere,
there was doubtless a session of Section Q.
Smoking was quite in fashion in those days and
smoke-filled rooms were by no means restricted to
Irving Fellner and E. M. Honan were asked to
draw up a design for a Society Emblem in 1924.
That drawing (pictured at left) was rejected; but in
1925, a new design was accepted by the Board. The
Society seal made its first appearance on the masthead
of the December 1925 issue of the Bulletin.
The center field of the design incorporates a
Weston Standard Cell and an arc playing
between horizontal electrodes, symbolizing
electrolytic and electrothermic reactions.
With the addition of the incorporation notice,
the final version of the Society’s corporate seal was approved in 1930.
The Transactions often make reference to
programs for the “ladies.” In the early days,
any women in attendance were almost certainly
the spouses of the male members or
guests. A notable visit for all at the spring meeting
was a visit to the Niagara Falls Power
Company. The visitors witnessed a demonstration
of the power company’s Large Scale
Model of the Falls (pictured at left).
The model was 1/100th of the size of the
Falls and used 28,000 liters of water per
minute. As the number of women participating
as technical registrants increased, the
term “nontechnical registrant” was used,
but the interesting programs continued to
Colin G. Fink patented the chromium plating process. (Columbia University’s chemistry department
is still the repository of Fink’s famous doorknobs,
the first objects to be plated with chromium
by this process.)
| Charter members photographed at the Silver Jubilee Meeting in 1927 in Philadelphia. From left to right are: Carl
Hambuechen, J. H. Clamer, Louis Kahlenberg, Wilder D. Bancroft, Herbert H. Dow, Frederick M. Becket,
Lawrence Addicks, Samuel S. Sadtler, Alfred H. Cowles. |
Werner Heisenberg proposed the Uncertainty Principle.
| Debye |
Thirteen Charter Members attended the
Society’s Silver Jubilee Meeting in
Philadelphia. Papers were presented by
Peter Debye and Victor LaMer on the
electrochemistry of concentrated
solutions; these papers were important
in developing the theoretical
aspects of this subject. Debye would
go on to win the 1936 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The Northwest Train Trip was
unlike any Society meeting before, or
since. The trip consisted of technical
sessions and a great deal of
sightseeing. The meeting “began”
in Chicago, Illinois on September 5
and made its way to Vancouver,
British Columbia. There were many
stops along the way, including one to the famous
Leonard copper mine in Montana, where members
had the opportunity to don authentic mining
apparel (pictured at left). The meeting “ended” on September 21
back in Chicago.
| Acheson |
A major development was the receipt of $25,000
from Edward Goodrich Acheson to establish a
fund that would support a gold medal and prize
award. The Acheson Award became a major award
of the Society. The spirit of giving was rampant in
1928, for later that year, a fellowship fund was
established, following another gift of $25,000, this
time from Edward Weston.
The international nature of the Society was officially
recognized by dropping “American” from the
name. The Electrochemical Society was incorporated
in the State of New York, and the basic design of
the Society Seal with the addition of
the notice of incorporation was modified to its current form (as pictured at left).
Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska invented the electron
microscope and Ernest Lawrence invented the
A significant event of the Salt Lake City meeting
was the establishment of the Electronics Division.
This Division was to remain quiescent for two
decades or so before becoming a major force in the
| Tone |
At the fall meeting in
Washington, DC, the Acheson Medal
was awarded to F. J. Tone, president of the
Carborundum Company and a former Society
president. However, headlines in the
Washington Post on the following morning
read, “Franchot Tone’s Father Receives a
Medal.” Franchot Tone was a leading Hollywood
actor, who had portrayed characters such Roger
Byam in the original 1935 “Mutiny on the
Bounty.” In his final presidential address back
in 1904, Joseph Richards had referred to
Tone’s “electrometallurgical triumph” of producing silicon: “I had a somewhat uncanny
feeling when Mr. Tone introduced me to his
half a ton of silicon… What will be made of
it? Can it become as useful as iron? Probably not.
Can application be found for it, which will bring it
among the ordinary metals of everyday life?
Possibly.” The answers to his questions would have
astounded Richards and Tone alike!
| Whitney |
The Niagara Falls meeting presented exhibits of
products of the electrochemical industries. A former
president, the eminent Willis R. Whitney, presented
an entertaining and informative address
entitled, “More Research.” The talk was wide ranging,
covering subjects as diverse as turtles, blushing
shrimp, winking of the eye and the optic nerve,
battleship communications, and luminaries such as
Volta and Bacon. Whitney, founder of the General
Electric Research Laboratories and a Society president,
was the object of Section Q’s attention at an
earlier Niagara Falls meeting (1909). Whitney was
known to be an avid hunter of Indian relics. At a
picnic down in the gorge, Whitney found a nice
arrowhead. He then found some other arrowheads
and naturally became quite enthusiastic. Then he
found a really good one – made of carborundum!
Section Q had struck again.
The Physical Electrochemistry Division was
originally established as the General and
Theoretical Electrochemistry Division at the spring
meeting. Chairmanship and responsibility for organization
of the new Division were delegated to
Duncan A. MacInnes, who in 1936 also took office
as president of the Society. MacInnes went on to
receive the Acheson Medal in 1948.
The Great Depression and the low level of membership
in the 1930s raised doubts as to the financial
solvency and stability of the Society, in spite of
the dedicated work of Secretary Fink. President R. L.
Baldwin convened an informal meeting to consider
whether the Society should dissolve or possibly
affiliate with ACS. (At one Board of Directors meeting,
a member reported that he had offered the
Society to the AIME and that the offer was rejected!)
The alternative was to continue, with efforts to
raise more funds, attract new members, and
improve meeting quality. Needless to say, this latter
course was chosen.
The founding of the Electro-Organic Division (now called the Organic and Biological
Electrochemistry Division) was spearheaded by
Society president H. J. Creighton during the
years 1939-1940. He had the assistance of
Sherlock Swann, Jr., who would go on to
publish (with Richard C. Alkire) the
1,000-page Bibliography of Electro-Organic Synthesis in 1979.
A category of Sustaining Membership
was established as a means whereby
industrial companies could support the
Society. This “Contributing Membership”
program, as it is now called, was initiated
by Colin G. Fink in 1940, and he was largely
responsible for obtaining the first members.
The recipient of Fink’s first letter of solicitation was the Mathieson Alkali Works. They have
since become a part of the Olin Corporation, which
remained an active Contributing Member. The other
charter members were the Dow Chemical
Corporation and Canadian Industries, Ltd. (now ICI
The Corrosion Division had its origin in the
Corrosion Technical Committee, formed in 1922 under the chairmanship of Colin Fink. In 1942, the
Corrosion Division was formally established as the
sixth Division of the Society.
One of the first Technical Committees established
by the Board in 1915 was the Chlorine and
Caustic Committee, which reported annually on
the technical developments and statistical data of
the chlorine-alkali industry. This committee was replaced in 1943 by the newly formed Industrial
Electrolysis Division, which later would become the
Industrial Electrolysis and Electrochemical
Engineering Division (IEEE).
Vannevar Bush proposed “hypertext,” a PC prototype
that would display text and pictures from
microfilm. The former MIT professor was President
Roosevelt’s science counsel during WWII. The year
also saw the first test explosion of a nuclear device
near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
The Dielectric Science and Technology Division
was founded in 1945 as the Electric Insulation
Division. Thomas D. Callinan, a later chairman of
the Division, would note in 1952 that already there
was a shift of interest from “power transmission to
intelligence transmission” and suggested that the
recently discovered transistor would have a major
impact on the field of dielectrics.
The University of Pennsylvania developed the
ENIAC computer, containing 18,000 vacuum tubes.
A Committee on Future Activities, under the
chairmanship of former president H. S. Lukens,
made some far-reaching recommendations, including
that a monthly journal be established and that
steps be taken to advance the professional status of
Considering that batteries are as “electrochemical” as anything can be, it might come as a shock
to learn that the Battery Division was not formed
until 1947. During World War II, work on batteries
became extensive, and it was clear that a home had
to be found where battery information could be
freely exchanged and reviewed for publication; the
Society was the obvious choice.
In the spring, Colin G. Fink announced his resignation
as Secretary, to take effect on July 1 of that
year. He had served for 26 years and, by sheer personal
effort and devotion, had maintained the
Society headquarters and minimized costs during a
period of meager finances.
| Burns |
Robert M. Burns accepted the post of secretary
with the proviso that an assistant secretary and a
managing editor be hired. Robert J. Hollian became
the first assistant secretary. Burns was to serve just
two years as secretary but, before, during, and after
his term, his influence on the future of the Society
was profound. No one else has served the Society as
president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer.
His additional contributions as editor of the Journal
and chairman of the Publication Committee would
influence greatly the early development of the
Journal into a quality scientific and technical publication.
Late in the year, an event would occur that
would result not only in an expanded ECS but also
in technological marvels that would change the
way of life for many of the world’s inhabitants. The
event was, of course, the invention of the transistor
on Christmas Eve, at Bell Laboratories in Murray
Hill, New Jersey.
Transition and Revival...
| Read |
| Uhlig |
The Journal of The Electrochemical Society
debuted in January 1948; and publication of
Transactions was discontinued after the 1949
issues. This publication of technical papers
on a monthly basis provided much earlier
distribution of the content than had been
possible through the Transactions. Robert
Burns, who was also serving as secretary at
the time, was the first editor. Harold J. Read
served as Technical Editor, with the responsibility
for reviewing all papers assigned to
Divisional representatives for their appropriateness
and technical content. He served
until 1950 and would be named an
Honorary Member in 1986.
One of the Society’s prime objectives was
to fill an obvious need for a Corrosion
Handbook. ECS sponsored the publication
and appointed Herbert H. Uhlig editor.
When it was published in 1948, it became the
second of the Society’s monographs, and
would go on to sell over 24,000 copies. In the
following year, Uhlig would become editor of
the Journal and would serve until 1951.
Henry B. Linford became secretary and served
from 1949 to 1959. Linford, a professor at
Columbia University, completed the transformation
of the Society office and operations. The post
of secretary had been an elective one throughout
the history of the Society until Linford’s appointment
by the Board. The post then reverted to being
an elective one upon Linford’s election as vice-president
in 1958. Henry Linford would become president
in 1961 and Honorary Member in 1974.
Linford’s 35-year career at Columbia was marked
by his distinguished teaching, and an ECS award
for teaching would be named for him.
Carl Djerassi (ECS plenary lecturer, fall 2000)
synthesized the first steroid oral contraceptive, the
key to the development of “the Pill.”
The Corrosion Handbook had been so successful,
that the Board established the Palladium Medal
Award, employing royalties from the book and palladium
metal generously donated by the
International Nickel Company. The first recipient
of the Palladium Medal Award was Carl Wagner,
who was presented with the award at the 1951 fall
meeting. Wagner was honored for his outstanding
contributions to the theory of oxidation and tarnishing
of metals. Wagner was also widely known
for his seminal contributions in the field of defect
chemistry of solid-state materials.
| A group of past presidents attended the 50th anniversary meeting in Philadelphia. Pictured here
are (seated, left to right): H. S. Lukens, C. G. Fink, L. Addicks, F. C. Mathers, and W. G. Harvey;
(standing, left to right): R. M. Burns, A. T. Hinkley, H. J. Creighton, W. C. Moore, G. W. Heise, and J. A. Lee. |
| Addicks |
The spring meeting in Philadelphia celebrated
the 50th Anniversary of the Society. A highlight of
the meeting was a talk by Lawrence Addicks. He
recalled some of his founding colleagues. Richards
“liked to appear in remarkable gray frock coats…
and kept a herd of St. Bernard dogs at his house on
the Lehigh campus making it look like a Swiss hospice.”
Wilder Bancroft was remembered as often
“saying plaintively, ‘You can never convince anybody
with facts,’ a remark of much wisdom.” Leo
Baekeland wasn’t happy when “we started to substitute
a lantern (projector in today’s terms) for the
blackboard.” Baekeland’s experience with the
lantern when lecturing at Columbia was that “when
he turned the lights back on he found that half his
audience had sneaked out and the other half was
asleep.” Recognition of the anniversary year was
emphasized in the Journal, which published an
anniversary feature in every issue that year.
The presentation of 137 papers at the fall meeting
in Montreal was the first to require simultaneous
James Watson and Francis Crick proposed the
double helix structure for DNA.
The Society’s first monograph began life as a
1941 symposium on plating, sponsored by the Electrodeposition Division. A volume was published
in 1942 and was entitled Modern
Electroplating. A revised volume with some new
material appeared in 1953, also as Modern
Electroplating, sponsored by the Society and published
by John Wiley & Sons (New York). This
“first” edition would be followed by three others.
| King |
Cecil V. King became editor of the Journal and
served in that capacity until 1969. King would
write a number of memorable editorials for the
Journal. King would become president
of the Society (1971-1972) and would receive
the Acheson Award in 1974.
Robert Shannon began to manage the Society
office in 1955 as assistant secretary. In 1958, he was
named executive secretary, the title he had when
he died suddenly in 1964.
The Washington, DC meeting featured a symposium
on “The Structure of Electrolytic Solutions,”
which was held in honor of the 70th anniversaries
of Arrhenius’ (the
1903 Chemistry Nobel Prize winner) postulation of the theory of electrolytic dissociation. The National Science
Foundation gave a $10,000 grant to the Society for
the publication of a proceedings volume, the
beginning of a succession of grants for similar symposia
held by the Society.
Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments invented the integrated
circuit. Kilby received the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work, and was the keynote speaker at
the Society’s first meeting in China in 2001.
Wilson Greatbatch invented the implantable
cardiac pacemaker. In The New York Times
Magazine article (December 9, 2001), the 82-year-old
Greatbatch said, “I’m going to build a rocket
that has a propulsion that will give an acceleration
of one G… One day we will be able to get halfway
to Mars in 25 hours. We don’t have the rocket or
spaceship yet. But it will happen.” Greatbatch has
been a member of ECS since 1985.
Theodore Maiman invented the laser (light
amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first
human in space.
Electrochemical Technology began in 1963 in order
to publish informative technical articles that merited
publication but did not report original research,
as was required by the Journal. The first editor, Al
Loonam, did an outstanding job in launching and
sustaining the new publication. (When Loonam
died suddenly in 1965, Norman Hackerman agreed
to take over the reins of Electrochemical Technology in
addition to his duties as editor of the Journal.) The
publication had a relatively short life. A later committee
recommended that the Society publish only
the Journal, and that it include three technical sections:
Electrochemical Science, Solid-State Science,
and Electrochemical Technology. These recommendations
were adopted and put in effect in 1969. The
changes resulted in more economical publication
and more editorial efficiency.
| Enck |
At one of these programming sessions in 1964,
the Society suffered a great loss when Bob
Shannon, Executive Secretary of the Society, was
stricken with a heart attack and died. Ernest G.
Enck stepped in to fill the vacancy. Enck was a dedicated
active member of the Society and would go
on to serve the Society until the end of January
| Moore |
One of the members of the Electronics Division
and co-founder of Intel, Gordon Moore, proposed
in 1965 that the number of transistors on a silicon
chip would double every year (later revised to every
18 months). Moore joined the Society in 1957 and
would give two plenary talks, in 1981 and 1997.
Although many changes had taken place in publications,
there was no assured record of papers presented
at meetings, for Divisions had the option of
publishing booklets of abstracts from their symposia,
or not. To bridge the gap, the Society began
to publish softcover volumes containing Meeting
Abstracts (then called Extended Abstracts) of all
the papers to be presented at the meetings.
In the mid-1960s, the question was raised as to
whether the name of the Society reflected its broad
interests. There were strong feelings on this matter,
but the response to a 1967 letter poll was overwhelmingly
in favor of retaining the current name,
rather than changing it to another, such as the J.
Willard Gibbs Society. Back in 1863, Yale
University had granted its first PhD in science to
Gibbs. In 1876 and 1878, Gibbs established the
field of chemical thermodynamics with the publication
of his treatises on thermodynamics, which
were to be of great significance to electrochemistry.
| Turner |
Richard Bechtold, on a lengthy European assignment,
resigned as secretary. The Board appointed
Dennis Turner, secretary-elect, to fill the remaining
four months of Bechtold’s term. When Turner took
over as secretary he found that, surprisingly, the
secretary was in charge of finances, while the treasurer
was in charge of meetings! Turner quickly
reversed this assignment of duties to its more logical
condition with the treasurer being in charge of
finances. Turner was responsible for a number of
beneficial changes to the Society’s staffing and governance,
and would give over three decades of service
to the Society. He was president from 1978 to
1979, received the prestigious Acheson Award in
1992, and received the Vittorio de Nora Award in
2000. Turner would also serve as the Society historian
for a number of years, write a number of “ECS
Classics” articles for Interface, and prepare material
for the 100th anniversary history book.
The U.S. Defense Department developed the
“Arpanet,” the precursor to the Internet. Intel
designed the first microprocessor. People walked on
the moon for the first time – Neil Armstrong and
the U.S. Apollo 11 mission.
The Society introduced softbound volumes containing
the full-length papers of symposia. These
Symposium Volumes (renamed Proceedings
Volumes in 1976), available either at the meeting
or shortly thereafter, were to be available as up-to-date
treatments of the particular fields of the symposia.
| Hackerman |
The post of Technical Editor of the Journal was
eliminated and Norman Hackerman was appointed
Editor for a period that would run until 1990.
Hackerman joined the Society in 1943. In addition
to his editorial responsibilities, he served as chairman
of the Corrosion Division (1951) and was
elected president in 1957. He received the Olin
Palladium Medal Award in 1965, was made an
Honorary Member in 1973, and received the
Acheson Award in 1984. Hackerman would have
an illustrious career outside of ECS as well. He
joined The University of Texas chemistry department
in 1945, and eventually became Vice-President, Provost, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and finally the University’s President in
1967. In 1970, Hackerman would become President
of Rice University until his retirement in 1985.
| Brewer |
After the Richards Lectures were discontinued in
1958, the practice of having plenary lectures didn’t
begin until 1970. The new series began with Leo
Brewer, who spoke on “Electrons – The Universal
Glue.” The list of notables, in both series, includes
a number of Nobel Laureates: William Shockley
(Physics 1956) Arthur L. Schawlow (Physics 1981),
Jean-Marie Lehn (Chemistry 1987), Rudolph A.
Marcus (Chemistry 1992), Richard E. Smalley
(Chemistry 1996), and William D. Phillips (Physics 1997).
The list of Nobel Laureates involved with ECS goes
on, including those who have joined the Society or
have spoken at its meetings, including: Fritz Haber
(Chemistry 1918), Peter Debye (Chemistry 1936), Linus Pauling (Chemistry 1954 and Peace 1962), Walter Brattain (Physics 1956), Jaroslav Heyrovsky (Chemistry 1959), and Jack Kilby (Physics 2000).
The Society Headquarters moved to U.S. Route 1,
in the Princeton, New Jersey area. The building had
been constructed using steel that came from the
India Pavilion at the last New York World’s Fair.
The period on U.S. Route 1 was not without incident.
One day, a U.S. Mail truck dropped a bag of
Society mail containing meeting registrations and
checks on the busy highway. Unfortunately, the
mail was scattered and largely destroyed by passing
cars and trucks. The building itself was not of the
highest quality construction. The roof leaked and
water would sometimes emerge from electrical outlets.
Wind would blow through the building even
when the windows were closed. On the occasion of
the Society hosting an open house for the
Metropolitan New York Section, a water main
burst, resulting in several inches of ice covering the
The Society Headquarters office was assigned
responsibility for the nontechnical arrangements
of Society meetings. This action benefited the
meetings by relieving the Sections of the problems
associated with organizing them and by making
accessible other venues that could handle multisession
meetings with over 1,000 attendees.
The solid-state revolution was in full swing. The
Society presented its first Solid State Science and
Technology Award to William G. Pfann at the spring
meeting in Chicago. Pfann was honored for his
invention of zone refining, which yielded semiconductor
materials of unprecedented purity. Not your
typical Bell Labs researcher, Pfann joined the Bell
Labs Chemical Research Department as a technician
with no college degree in 1935 and was to become
one of Bell Labs’ most productive scientists.
Because of what happened with one of its major
awards, the Society could be said to have been
involved in the Cold War! Professor V. G. Levich was named the 1973 recipient of the Palladium
Medal Award. However, the Soviet Union would
not allow him to come to the meeting to receive
the award. After some controversy and a number of
failed attempts, the prize was finally delivered to
Levich by Bruce Hannay at Bell Labs in 1980.
In 1974, the Society first presented its fourth
major award, the Electrochemical Science and
Technology Award, to Abner Brenner. Brenner,
who died in 1999 at the age of 91, was best known
for his invention of the electroless nickel-plating process, upon which a whole industry is based, as
well as his many other seminal contributions to the
field of electrodeposition. Prolific to the end, he received his last of over 30 patents at the age of 90!
In 1977, this award would begin to undergo a
number of changes. Vittorio De Nora and the
Diamond-Shamrock Company, agreed to fund an
endowment with a gift of $70,000. In 1990, de
Nora most generously added $70,000 to the
endowment. In 1991, after the company had been
re-structured, the award was renamed the Vittorio
de Nora Award. The award’s namesake is most
known for his contributions to industry in the
manufacture of chlorine and in the development of dimensionally stable anodes, which have revolutionized the electrochemical (chlor-alkali) and electrometallurgical
industries. He was named an Honorary Member in 1982.
| Pfann |
| Levich |
| Brenner |
| De Nora |
Ernest G. Enck had served the Society as a member,
officer, and staff member for many years and
after announcing his retirement, was named
Executive Secretary Emeritus and Honorary
Member. V. H. “Bud” Branneky became the executive
secretary of the Society. Branneky was slated to
serve the Society until 1991, and also would
become an Honorary Member. His tenure as executive
secretary would be characterized by a dedication
to maintaining a high sense of fiscal responsibility
in the Society.
The Board of Directors approved the formation
of the Energy Technology Group, with Jerry
Woodall (dry) and Supramaniam Srinivasan (wet)
as the co-founders. (It would become the Energy
Technology Division in 1987.) The Society’s first
Group was formed to act as a bridge between the
“wet” and “dry” sides of the house in energy-related
matters and to cover those areas of energy-related
topics not being adequately covered in the existing
Divisions. (“Dry” here refers to the solid-state,
high temperature materials, dielectrics, etc. areas;
while “wet” encompasses the more conventional
electrochemistry including batteries, corrosion,
electroplating and electrodeposition, and biological
The Council of Sections Excellence Award was
established under the guidance of Gwendolyn B.
Wood and was first presented to the New York
Metropolitan Section for the 1975-1976 period.
Wood had been an active member of the Society
from 1952 until her death in 1975, actively supporting
the National Capital Section and serving
on the Council of Sections.
Society Secretary Paul Milner and Executive
Secretary Branneky introduced computer technology
for handling Society business. Paul Milner
would give many years of service to the Society,
providing his services and expertise behind the
scenes as well as in more prominent Society roles.
He became a member in 1958, secretary from 1974
to 1980, and would become president in 1984. He
continued to assist the Society staff
in solving computer and software
problems, and wrote several programs
to help in many phases of
Society business. A state-of-the-art
Milner computer program to
help reduce lag time in the
Journal was introduced in
1991 and lag times
Joan Berkowitz became the first woman president
of the Society. Berkowitz joined the Society in 1961. She
was active in what is now the HTM Division and
served as vice-chairman and chairman. She became
a Divisional editor of the Journal in 1966 and served
on many Society committees. Berkowitz designed,
for the lunar space program, experiments in metals
melting and eutectic solidification in space; and coauthored
a monograph on industrial utilization of
NASA developments in electroplating.
| Branneky |
| Wood |
| Milner |
| Berkowitz |
| In 1980, the peripatetic Society finally owned its
own building, in Pennington, NJ, which it
would occupy until 1999. |
Society Headquarters moved from rented space on
U.S. Route 1 to its own building at 10 South Main
Street in Pennington, New Jersey (pictured at left). The
property originally was purchased in 1849 by one D.
C. Titus, a cabinetmaker according to an 1860 map.
In 1902, Titus’ daughter, Rosalie Blackwell, inherited
the property, tore the old building down, and rebuilt
it in 1903. Rosalie was reportedly the first female
lawyer in the United States.
Gerd Karl Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer invented
the scanning tunneling microscope.
Under the leadership of George Gillooly, F. M.
Ryan, and Martin Royce, luminescence activity was
resurrected. Their efforts culminated in 1982 with
the formation of the Group that would become, in
1993, the Luminescence and Display Materials
Division (LDM) of the Society. The LDM Division
had its roots in the Electronics Division and the
first luminescence symposium was held in 1945 at
a regional meeting of the Metropolitan New York Section.
| A new class of materials came on
the scene in the 1980s—the interesting carbon-60 molecule — that
would lead to the field known as fullerenes. |
Sir Harold Kroto, J. R. Heath, S. C. O’Brien, R. F.
Curl, and Richard Smalley discovered the unusual
stability of the carbon-60 Buckminsterfullerene molecule
and deduce its structure. Smalley later would
give a talk at an early ECS fullerenes symposium.
K. Alex Mueller and J. Georg Bednorz discovered
high-temperature superconductivity in ceramic
The Society held its first joint
international meeting with the
Electrochemical Society of Japan
and the Japan Society of Applied
Physics, in Hawaii, and it was the
largest meeting in the Society’s history
to this point. Over 1,700
papers were presented, which resulted
in a huge “souvenir” – the meeting
abstracts volume was almost 3" thick!
President Ron Enstrom appointed
an ad hoc Long Range Planning
Committee consisting of Richard
Alkire, Ralph Brodd, Larry Faulkner,
Florian Mansfeld, Barry Miller,
Arnold Reisman, Laura Rothman,
Forrest Trumbore, Bruce Wagner,
and Dennis Turner as Chairman. Their report, submitted
to the Executive Committee in 1988, treated
14 different issues, a couple of which were
thought to deserve immediate attention. A major
revision of the Journal and its editorial staff structure
was recommended to improve the quality of
the Journal and the efficiency of reviewing manuscripts;
and a new publication was recommended
to communicate better with the membership, making
the Journal a strictly technical journal. It was
felt that the Society needed to recognize active
members who had made significant contributions
to science and technology, through the establishment
of the category of Fellow. These recommendations
were all adopted.
The rapid growth of electrochemical sensor science
and technology spawned many symposia on sensors
in the early 1980s. Dennis Turner decided that the
Society needed a Sensor Group and, to that end,
organized a symposium on Chemical Sensors for the
1987 fall meeting in Honolulu. The Sensor Group
(now the Sensor Division) was approved by the Board
of Directors at the spring meeting in Atlanta.
When Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons
announced “Cold Fusion” on March 23, 1989, a
special evening session was quickly scheduled to
the upcoming spring meeting in Los Angeles. By
the evening of May 8, the session featured talks by
the principals, supporters, and critics. The criticisms
were devastating and cold fusion was to
fade from the scene until 2002, when new
announcements would emerge.
| Miller |
Tim Berners-Lee, of CERN,
coined the name World Wide Web
for the global hypertext system.
Following the recommendation of the
last Long Range Planning committee, a new
Editorial Board structure for the Journal was introduced.
Reduction of lag time for manuscripts
became a principal goal. Norman Hackerman
retired from the Journal after 40 years service
as Technical Editor and Editor.
Barry Miller became Editor of the
Journal in 1990, after his serving as a
Divisional Editor (1974-1989) under
Hackerman. He was chairman of the Physical
Electrochemistry Division (1987-1989) and a coorganizer
of the first symposia within the Society
on fullerenes and on high temperature superconductors.
Miller would be made an ECS Fellow in
1992 and become president in 1997. He was instrumental
in the planning of the Society’s first joint
international meeting in Europe – the fall 1997
meeting in Paris.
| Calvo |
Roque J. Calvo was named Executive Secretary
upon Bud Branneky’s retirement. During Calvo’s
administration, the needs of the Society would
change in ways, and at a pace, undreamed of by his
many predecessors. Technological advances would
greatly affect the way Headquarters did business. It
would begin with modems, faxes, and LANs and
rapidly progress to advanced databases and online
publishing. Calvo’s title changed from Executive
Secretary to Executive Director in 1994.
During the fall meeting in Toronto, it was
announced that Rudolph Marcus had won the
Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Marcus
was attending the meeting and
the Society staff quickly arranged
a full-scale reception in his
honor. The publications staff
made some quick changes to the
new members magazine, which
had been some time in the
planning. After obtaining a
good photograph of Marcus,
and quick conferences with
the designer, the inaugural
cover of Interface featured a
That new magazine
was the implementation of a
1988 recommendation. It was intended to
serve all the functions of the “C” pages of the
Journal, to broaden communication with the members,
and encourage new members to join the
Society. The first issue of Interface, with Paul Kohl as
editor, appeared in the winter of 1992.
A major new class of materials had burst upon
the scene in the 1980s – a form of carbon containing
60 atoms in a structure resembling a soccer ball
(called Buckyballs, after the architect Buckminster
Fuller) – and spurred a worldwide effort that
became known as fullerenes. The New Technology
Subcommittee responded by sponsoring symposia
on the topic. The response was outstanding and a
Fullerenes Group was formed at the fall meeting.
(At the time of this writing, the Group is applying
for Divisional status.)
Early in the year, the Society launched the ECS Website
and in June, began accepting electronic meeting abstracts via e-mail.
Paul A. Kohl became Editor of the Journal. Kohl
had served as the first editor of Interface, the
Society’s members’ magazine, until his appointment
to the Journal. Kohl received the Society’s Carl
Wagner Award in 2001.
Jan Talbot became editor of Interface when Kohl
was named editor of the Journal. Talbot was a member
of a number of Society committees, co-chaired
many symposia, organized the first few general
Society student poster sessions, and co-edited a
proceedings volume. In 2001, Talbot would
become Society president.
Two outstanding past presidents died just a few
months apart: Charles W. Tobias and N. Bruce
Hannay. Both had distinguished careers in science
and technology and contributed greatly to the
growth and stature of the Society.
Charles Tobias is credited with founding the
modern science of electrochemical engineering through his teaching and research at the University
of California, Berkeley. Tobias contributed to the
Society in many ways: through presentations of his
work at meetings and in publications, and his service
as a leader of the Physical Electrochemistry
Division and as Society president (1970-1971). The
Society honored him with numerous awards:
Edward G. Acheson Award and Prize in 1972,
Honorary Member in 1977, Henry Linford Award
for Distinguished Teaching in 1982, and the
Vittorio de Nora Medal and Prize in 1990.
N. Bruce Hannay had a distinguished career at
Bell Laboratories, rising to be vice-president of
research and patents from 1973 until he retired in
1982. He was a leader in the research and development
work that produced practical transistors and
other solid-state devices. He became involved in
the Electronics Division of the Society soon after
the transistor was invented and was influential in
improving the stature of the Division and in
attracting to the Society many new members
involved in the new science and technology of
semiconductors. Hannay received many honors
and awards, including the Society’s Edward G.
Acheson Award and Prize in 1976, the Perkin
Medal in 1983, and the Gold Medal of the
American Institute of Chemists.
| Kohl |
| Talbot |
| Tobias |
| Hannay |
The year saw the first meeting of the Society outside
the U.S. or Canada, and it was the first joint
venture with the International Society of
Electrochemistry (ISE). The fall meeting, the largest
in the Society’s history, was held in Paris, France.
The meeting was a rousing success, with 2,900 registrants
and 2,463 papers, though the tragic death of
Britain’s Princess Diana in Paris added a sobering
Although the charter members of the Society had
long since passed away, a very nice remembrance of
one of them came in 1997. The Society received a
large bequest from the estate of Carl Hering, a
founding member and the Society’s first Secretary.
The Society placed the money in a separate fund, the
interest to be used to help support the Centennial
activities planned for the 2002 spring meeting in
In July, the rapid-publication online journal,
Electrochemical and Solid-State Letters, was launched.
It was the first journal in the field to use a system of
publishing papers online first –
one article at a time, as soon as
they have been accepted and prepared
for publication – with
paper publication to follow.
Letters was the natural outgrowth
of the former Accelerated Brief
Communications and the subsequent
Letters section of the
Journal. To further ensure its
success, ECS developed a copublication
the Electron Devices Society
of the IEEE. The online publication
also benefits from an
arrangement with the
American Institute of
Physics (AIP) to produce the
journal in a special format,
enabling wide interconnection among all
online technical journals.
| The central building on the ECS "campus" at 65
South Main Street in Pennington, NJ. |
With so much growth, the Society Headquarters
staff needed more space, and was finally able to
move in December to a new building at 65 South
Main Street, just down the street from the existing
| Rajeshwar |
Krishnan Rajeshwar was named Editor of
Interface, after Jan Talbot resigned to take up her
new role as a vice-president of the Society.
Rajeshwar brought a number of innovations to the
magazine, including alternating issues featuring
Divisions, with ones focused on special topics.
“Raj,” as he is known, has been a member since
1978 and has been active on many committees. He
was chairman of the Energy Technology Division
and the New Technology Subcommittee. He has
been an organizer for many ECS symposia as well
as an editor for proceedings volumes.
The Board of Directors unanimously voted to
adopt an Official Acronym and Tagline to identify
Society (displayed below). The adoption of "ECS" formalized the
shorthand that had been used informally for
decades by the members. The tagline would also
help to give more prominence to the “dry” side of
the house, a need recognized by many planning
committees since the 1950s.
| The Society’s first meeting in Europe, and its largest to date, was sponsored jointly
with the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE). Pictured here at the meeting
are (left to right): Katsumi Niki, president of ISE; Jean-Marie Lehn, guest plenary
lecturer and 1987 Nobel Laureate (Chemistry); Laurence M. Peter, ISE
Pergamon Medal lecturer; and Barry Miller, president of ECS. |
| Scrosati |
The 10th International Meeting on Lithium
Batteries (IMLB X) was held in Como, Italy. The
conference was organized by Bruno Scrosati, who
became an ECS vice-president, and who is scheduled
to become (2003-2004) the Society’s first president
from outside North America. The tenth IMLB
was the first organized by ECS, and the program
included the presentation of the first special award
of the European Section, the Volta Medal. It was
given to Michel Armand for excellence in electrochemical
and solid-state science in Europe.
The International Semiconductor Technology
Conference (ISTC), organized by Ming Yang of
Texas Instruments, was held in Shanghai in May
and was a first in many respects. It was the first
ISTC meeting and it was the Society’s first major
meeting in China. The highlight of the conference
was the plenary address given by Jack Kilby, the
winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics (2000) for his
invention of the integrated circuit.
| Phillips |
The spring meeting
had what must
have been one of
the liveliest and
most spirited plenary
lectures in the history of
ECS. With copious use of
buckets of liquid nitrogen,
flipping of flattened frozen
exploding balloons into the
audience, levitation of spinning
magnets, Nobel Laureate William Phillips made sure that no one dozed off during his early morning lecture on laser cooling.
Today and Tomorrow...
At the beginning of 2002, the membership
stands at a little over 8,000. Every continent on the
globe is represented in the ranks, with approximately
40% of the membership coming from outside
the U.S. Just as the country that gave birth to
ECS has become even more of a melting pot, so has
ECS continued to embrace a broad spectrum of
people, research, and ideas. With the assimilation
of so much new communications technology, and
the scheduling of meetings all over the world,
members from outside North America are able to
take a more active role in Society affairs.
The Journal has become the top-ranked technical
journal for publication in the various disciplines
covered by the Society. Electrochemical and Solid-State Letters has become a medium for rapid dissemination
of important work. Interface not only
keeps its members informed, but also delivers informative
articles and comments about technical
interests and achievements in the field.
The Society maintains its
alertness in recognizing and
encouraging the incorporation
of new areas into the
Division/Group structure, and
the resulting meetings grow larger,
proceedings volumes more prolific,
both offering a broader range of technical
All together, ECS continues to be
that “forum” for electrochemical and
solid-state science and technology that C. J. Reed
envisioned over one hundred years ago.
The Society officially adopted the use of the acronym - ECS - and an official
“the society for solid-state
and electrochemical science
This article was reproduced from The Electrochemical Society Interface (Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 2002) with permission of The Electrochemical Society, Inc. and the author.
The article was prepared by Mary Yess, Interface’s Managing Editor, based on the ECS centennial history book:
The Electrochemical Society 1902-2002: A Centennial History,
F.A. Trumbore and D.R. Turner, The Electrochemical Society, Pennington, NJ, 2002.
All photographs, unless otherwise noted, are from
the ECS archives at ECS Headquarters and at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia.
Photos of Paul Heroult, Charles M. Hall, and Herbert Dow are provided
courtesy of the Williams Haynes Portrait Collection, Chemical Heritage
Foundation Image Archives, Othmer Library of Chemical History,
The image of the Manufacturers' Club came from the 1914 “Yearbook of the
Twentieth Annual Architectural Exhibition,” which was held by the Philadelphia
Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and the T-Square Club. Image
courtesy of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Photo of Willis Whitney courtesy of the Williams Haynes Portrait Collection,
Chemical Heritage Foundation Image Archives, Othmer Library of Chemical
History, Philadelphia, PA.
Photo of Gordon Moore © 1996 Louis F. Bachrach.
Jaroslav Heyrovsky and polarography
Pillars of modern electrochemistry
Walther Nernst: physicist and chemist
Julius Tafel - his life and science
Volta and the "Pile"
- Many original journal articles written by the above listed famous electrochemists are available on the WWW at a listing of historical publications in electrochemistry.
- The Electrochemical Society 1902-2002: A Centennial History,
F.A. Trumbore and D.R. Turner, The Electrochemical Society, Pennington, NJ, 2002.
- A history of The Electrochemical Society, R.M. Burns and E.G. Enck
(editors), The Electrochemical Society, Princeton, NJ 1977.
Listings of electrochemistry books, review chapters, proceedings volumes, and full text of some historical publications are also available in the Electrochemistry Science and Technology Information Resource (ESTIR). (http://knowledge.electrochem.org/estir/)
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