S. Donald Stookey

S. Donald Stookey
Born Stanley Donald Stookey
(1915-05-23)May 23, 1915
Hay Springs, Nebraska, U.S.
Died November 4, 2014(2014-11-04) (aged 99)
Rochester, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Physicist, Chemist
Institutions Corning Glass Works
Alma mater
Known for Inventor of CorningWare[1]
Notable awards John Price Wetherill Medal (1953)
National Medal of Technology by President Ronald Reagan in 1986[1]
National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2010[2]

Stanley Donald Stookey (May 23, 1915 – November 4, 2014) was an American inventor. He had 60 patents in his name related to glass and ceramics, some solely his while others are jointly with others. His discoveries and inventions have affected considerably the development of ceramics, eyeglasses, sunglasses, cookware, defense systems, and electronics.[1][3]

He was a research director at Corning Glass Works for 47 years doing R & D in glass and ceramic development. His inventions include Fotoform, CorningWare, Cercor, Pyroceram and Photochromic Ophthalmic glass eyewear.[3]

Early life

Stookey was born on May 23, 1915 in Hay Springs, Nebraska. His father, Stanley Stookey, was a teacher and bank clerk. His mother, Hermie Stookey, was a teacher and housewife. Stookey had three siblings and he was the oldest of the four children. When Stookey was about 6 years old the family moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from Hay Springs.[3]


Stookey went to Coe College from 1934 to 1936 where he graduated with his first degree, a liberal arts degree in chemistry and mathematics.[1][3] Stookey’s grandfather (Stephen Stookey) was previously a professor of botany and geology at that same college.[3] After graduation from Coe College Stookey then went to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania in 1937.[1][3] He received a $1000 fellowship to cover living expenses and as a teaching laboratory assistant in the chemistry lab.[3] In 1938 he earned his Master of Science degree in chemistry from Lafayette College.[3] Stookey then went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge where he received a doctorate in chemistry in 1940.[1][3] The same year he married his wife Ruth.[3] He received an honorary degree from Alfred University in 1984.[3]

Stookey took his career job at Corning Glass Works in 1940. He carried out research on glass and ceramics, which led to several inventions. Stookey studied and experimented with opal glass and glass ceramics.[3]

FotoForm glass

Corningware, invented by S. Donald Stookey
Main article: CorningWare

One of Stookey's earliest innovations was FotoForm glass. The scientific community recognized its value around 1948. FotoForm glass is used in computer manufacturing and communications technology. A serendipitous invention made by Stookey in 1953 was when he took a piece of FotoForm glass and mistakenly heated it to 900 °C when he meant to heat it to 600 °C. When an oven thermometer was stuck on the higher temperature Stookey had accidentally created the first glass-ceramic, Fotoceram.[3] It was later known also as Pyroceram. This was the first glass-ceramic and eventually led to the development of CorningWare in 1957. CorningWare went to the consumer marketplace the next year in 1958 for cookware by Corning Glass Works and became just one of Stookey's multimillion-dollar inventions. It influenced the development of VisionWare, which is transparent cookware.[3] VisionWare was patented by Corning Glass Works in 1966.[3]

Pyroceramic glass has the necessary properties to be used by the military for the nose cones of supersonic radar domes in guided missiles applied in defense.[3] It has the special properties of extreme hardness, super strength, resistance to high heat and transparency to radar waves.[3] It is the basis for Gorilla Glass, used in iPhones and other LCD screens.

Stookey also developed photochromic glass.[1] Photochromic glass is a glass that is used to make ophthalmic lenses that darken in bright light. These lenses were first available to consumers in the 1960s as sunglasses made by Corning Glass Works. It was a joint discovery and development of Stookey with William Armistead. Stookey also invented photosensitive glass using gold in which permanent colored photographs can be produced.[1]


Later life

Stookey retired from Corning Glass Works in 1987 after a career of 47 years.[1]

Together he and his wife raised three children named Robert, Margaret and Donald Bruce.[3] They had six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.[3] He died at the age of 99 in 2014.[2]

Organization membership

Stookey has held membership in many professional organizations and societies, including,



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Scientists of the Century". Corning Incorporated. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  2. 1 2 Yardley, William (6 November 2014). "S. Donald Stookey, Scientist, Dies at 99; Among His Inventions Was CorningWare". The New York Times. p. A15.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Woodard, Kathy L. (March 2000). "Profiles in Ceramics: S. Donald Stookey". American Ceramic Society Bulletin: 34–39. ISSN 0002-7812.
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