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SPIE Professional July 2007

In Memoriam: Arthur Cox

By Fred Abbott

In early January the optical community lost one of its best known and respected optical designers, Arthur Cox. Cox had been a friend for almost 40 years and was actively designing lenses until a few days before his death at 92, in Newport Beach, CA. He was a Fellow of SPIE, the Institute of Optics of London, and the Optical Society of America. He held more than 50 patents.
During World War II, Cox worked on a wide range of optical lenses and systems, mainly for military applications, for which he was awarded a substantial number of patents. His first of several books, Photographic Optics, published in 1943, was written during the war years and was such a success that today the book is in its 14th edition and has been published in several languages. So that he could continue writing during bombing raids, Arthur told me that he wrote while lying on a mattress under a table, using only a candle to provide adequate illumination.
He moved to the United States in 1947 and worked for Farrand Optical Company. In 1951, Cox was appointed chief optical designer at the Bell & Howell Company in Chicago, IL. It was there that Cox did his most productive work. He was responsible for developing and training a team of optical designers, one named Tom Harris, later to become the founder of Optical Research Associates in Pasadena, CA. At Bell & Howell he was responsible for creating a wealth of products. In particular, under his guidance, the efficient manufacture of zoom lenses was developed. Arthur, with his great experience, directed the use of a number of techniques encompassing many different disciplines. In particular, Arthur was responsible for developing methods for manufacturing aspheric surfaces.
He retired from Bell & Howell in 1967 as vice president of optics, but he didn't stay retired for long. During the next five years he completely re-wrote Photographic Optics and consulted for a number of companies throughout the world. In 1972 he returned to Bell & Howell as president of the optics division. He retired again after five more years, but was soon back designing optical systems, particularly zoom lenses. He gave a number of papers on this topic at SPIE meetings, the last one in April 2005, when he was 90 years old.

Fred Abbott, International Technology Association Inc.

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200707.19

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