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1950s: Miller Introduces Selenium Rectifiers

Until the mid-1950s, Miller produced only AC welders. However, company engineers recognized that DC welding produced a smoother arc.

Competitive DC welders, also introduced this decade, converted AC primary power into a DC weld output using selenium rectifiers (washer-like steel discs plated with selenium to rectify the current interspersed with aluminum discs to provide cooling).

These first rectifiers weren't very reliable, as they were made for TV's and radios and couldn't stand up to a welding load. To improve reliability, Miller decided to manufacture its own. In 1956, Miller introduced the Gold Star® SR (selenium rectifier) welder. Miller rectifiers had a failure rate of less than 1/4 of one percent, an amazing quality standard at that time. Business boomed, and Miller quickly became the largest selenium rectifier manufacturer in world.

By 1957, Miller welders were used to construct most major planes, jet fighters and missiles, including those from Boeing, Northrop, Cessna, Beechcraft, Lockheed, Douglas, North American Aviation, Grumman and Aerojet-General.

Noteworthy Inventions

1951: Dr. Harry Coover and Dr. Fred Joyner, researching a heat-resistant acrylate polymer for jet canopies, discovered Superglue.

1952: Hasbro debuted Mr. Potato Head, which also became the first toy advertised on TV.

1954: Bryce K. Brown of Decatur Electronics helps police get the lowdown on speeders when he invents the radar gun.

1956: Australian Dr. David developed the first prototype of the “Black Box” flight data recorder.

1957: Wham-O popularized the Frisbee®. The name for this product came from the Frisbie Baking Company—New England college students tossed its pie tins in the late 1800s!).

1958: Wham-O founders Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin trademarked the Hula Hoop® and sold 20 million units for $1.98 in the first six months.


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