Presidents of the Mid-1960s

During the mid-1960s, OSA was led by an expert on colorimetry (and a stickler for grammar) and a pioneer who first envisioned OSA as an international society.



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David Lewis MacAdam, 1962

David L. MacAdam was born in Philadelphia on 1 July 1910. He received a B.S. from Lehigh University in 1932 and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1936. In 1932, he joined the Bartol Research Laboratory—which is now a research center in the department of physics at the University of Delaware. He was a teaching fellow at MIT from 1932 to 1936, when he joined the Research Laboratory of the Eastman Kodak Company. He remained at Kodak for the remainder of his career. His research specialty was on color measurement and applications to color photography and television.

He was a U.S. expert on colorimetry on the International Commission on Illumination from 1968 onward. In 1940, he became OSA's very first recipient of the Adolph Lomb medal for the noteworthy contributions to optics he had made before the age of 30. (He was just turning 30 that year.) He delivered the Mattiello Memorial lecture of the Federation of Societies for Paint Technology in 1965, and he was the Hurter and Driffield Memorial lecturer at the Royal Photographic Society, London, in 1966. He was a fellow of OSA, and in 1962, he became president. He was awarded the Ives Medal in 1957. In 1964, he succeeded Deane Judd as editor of the Journal of the Optical Society of America (JOSA). He served through 1975.

As editor of JOSA, MacAdam raised a few eyebrows by deciding to be strict on the grammar of authors; in particular, he asked authors to rewrite paragraphs that contained dangling participles. (As the editor of Applied Optics, I was a bit less strict on such matters if I knew what the author was trying to say. I heard many laments from JOSA authors who felt aggrieved at such treatment.)

MacAdam also served on the board of governors of the American Institute of Physics in the 1960s. He was the OSA delegate on the Intersociety Color Council. He collaborated with A.C. Hardy to create the Handbook of Colorimetry in 1936 and The Science of Color in 1953. He passed away in 1997.



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Stanley Sumner Ballard, 1963

Born in Los Angeles on 1 Oct 1908, Ballard obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees from Pomona College in 1928 and 1932, respectively, and a Ph.D. in physics in 1934 from the University of California at Berkeley. After receiving his Ph.D., he taught at the University of Hawaii from 1935 to 1941 and served in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1941 until 1945. In 1946, while he was a commander in the Navy, he was chief of the radiometry section for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll.

After the war, he became a professor of physics and department chairman at Tufts University. He served there from 1946 until 1954, when he became a research physicist at the Scripps Institution of the University of California. He remained in that role until 1958.

In 1958, he accepted the position of department chair and professor of physics at the University of Florida, serving until 1978. He was a distinguished professor of physics at Florida from 1978 to 1981 and professor emeritus from 1982 until his death. He was the author (with Erich Hausman and Edgar P. Slack) of a widely used textbook for college physics. His research specialty was in the properties of optical materials. Between 1947 and 1955, he became vice president for meetings for OSA.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, Ballard was one of the principal activists advocating to make the Optical Society of America less provincial and old-fashioned and more directed toward international and interdisciplinary optics. Thanks to his efforts, OSA established a central office in Washington in 1959 and started the new journal Applied Optics in 1960. (In fact, when the OSA Board was considering starting Applied Optics as a second journal, he was the leading contender for the editor position. It was only because he had just agreed to become department chairman at the University of Florida that he decided against that editorship.)

In October of 1960, the OSA board was suddenly faced with the problem of deciding who to choose as editor of the journal Applied Optics, the new journal that the Board had just approved at their previous meeting. I was told that the board had filled a blackboard with a long list of possible choices, and they spent two hours debating those possibilities before deciding on me.

Ballard was a fellow of OSA; he became president in 1963. He won the OSA Distinguished Service Award in 1977. He was also a fellow of the American Physical Society; the British Physical Society; SPIE; and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), an organization for which he served as president from 1968 to 1969. He won the AAPT Oersted Medal in 1986.

In the early years of Applied Optics, he served as a contributing editor for a column called "Optics in the Universities." He has more than 80 citations in Optics InfoBase, about half of which are attributable to his AO column.

He was elected a vice president of the International Commission for Optics (ICO) at the first General Meeting in Delft, 1948, and he was reelected for the terms from 1950 to 1953 and from 1953 to 1956. He died on 30 March 1998 at the age of 89.


John N. Howard is the founding editor of Applied Optics and retired chief scientist of the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory.

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Presidents of the Mid-1960s

During the mid-1960s, OSA was led by an expert on colorimetry (and a stickler for grammar) and a pioneer who first envisioned OSA as an international society.

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