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Letter from Linus Pauling to the California Institute Research Foundation. April 9, 1942.
Pauling writes to recount the history of his invention of the Pauling oxygen meter.


April 9, 1942


Calif. Inst. Res. Foundation

1201 E. Calif. St.



The history of my invention of the oxygen meter is the following.

On October 3, 1940 I attended a meeting of the NDRC in Washington in which the need for an oxygen meter was mentioned. On October 8 I made the invention, and telegraphed the NDRC for permission to hire an assistant. This was granted, and Dr. Reuben Wood was hired on an OSRD contract dated October 9, 1940, to reduce the invention to practice. The Government holds an irrevocable royalty-free license to manufacture the instrument.

The patent covering the original invention, assigned to the Research Foundation, will not be issued until after the war, in order that it be kept secret.

No agreement has been reached by the Foundation and me regarding the disposition of returns from the patent.

The instruments are now being manufactured by the California Institute and sold to the Armed Forces, approved defense plants, and other approved purchasers. It is clear that the instrument will find wide use in peace time in many industries, including mines, chemical plants of various sorts, airplanes, laboratories, etc.

Dr. Reuben Wood and Dr. JH Sturdivant, who assisted in reducing the original invention to practice, have made some subsidiary inventions which seem to be of value. Since they have already been released for use, it seems desirable that patent applications covering them be made without delay.

Note written on the side: Since these men weren't named as inventors on the original application, they can't be paid, or the patent would be invalidated.

The original invention, which is not chemical in nature, was not related to my duties at the Institute and did not grow out of my regular work, but was instead developed from the suggestion of the NDRC that such an instrument was needed. The inventions of Wood and Sturdivant were made in connection with the reduction to practice of the original invention, but represent work beyond that for which they were employed.

Respectfully yours,

Linus Pauling

(The content of this letter was presented orally by me to the Trustees of the Foundation at the California Club on April 9, 1942. LP)

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