Visionary leaders, ground-breaking results
The history of our company is a history of innovation spanning more than eight decades.
From a small operation in the rear of a garage in Pasadena, California, to its recognition today as a world leader in clinical diagnostics and life science research, our company owes its success to three men of vision who revolutionized science and medicine: Arnold O. Beckman, Ph.D., and brothers Wallace and Joseph Coulter.
On the American west coast, our company’s story begins with a ground-breaking, yet simple, invention by Dr. Arnold O. Beckman in the early 1930s. He found a solution for determining the precise measurement of pH in lemon juice—the acidimeter, or pH meter. The manual, colorimetric methods in use at the time did not work well because the preservative used on lemons interfered with them. Instead, Dr. Beckman suggested a design for a vacuum-tube amplifier, combining principles of chemistry and electricity in a simple instrument that could be used by non-scientists.
By 1935, Dr. Beckman sold the first commercial pH meter. Within 25 years, the pH meter, as well as the DU spectrophotometer—considered the scientific equivalent of the Model T—and the helipot potentiometer found thousands of applications in science, industry and medicine. Dr. Beckman’s instruments simplified tedious laboratory procedures, increased analytical precision and transformed chemical analysis.
Meanwhile, across the country in Chicago, Illinois, Wallace Coulter was hard at work on his own ground-breaking research. In the early 1950s, he discovered the Coulter Principle, the most widely used method for counting and sizing microscopic particles suspended in a fluid. His method has been called the first viable basis for flow cytometry, and from it grew an industry that forever changed the world of diagnostic medical research.
Wallace and his brother, Joseph, founded Coulter Electronics in 1958 and relocated the business to Miami, Florida, in 1961.