Dr. William Armistead is an iconic figure in Corning’s history, and testament to Corning’s rich culture of innovation. Through his knowledge of glass composition, Armistead pioneered new products in the mid-20th century that would drive Corning’s success for decades to come.
When Armistead joined Corning in 1941, the company was in the midst of expanding its laboratory and staff. Drawing on his expertise in chemical engineering, Armistead kicked off Corning’s involvement in the eyeglasses market, and later went on to aid in the development of Corning’s unbreakable glass, Corelle.
One of Armistead’s first major successes with Corning was in the area of optical glass. Over the course of six years, Armistead created nearly 50 different glass compositions for Corning’s customers. The wide range of formulas was necessary to be able to service the broad eyewear market.
Another of Armistead’s successes involved a new glass, known as 9010 – a black-and-white television glass. Corning became an industry leader in black-and-white television bulbs, due largely to Armistead, but soon color television was on the horizon. In December of 1954, Armistead was appointed as director of the pilot plant which had been working on color television bulbs, collaborating across the company to develop a one-piece, all-glass color television bulb. Armistead also played a role strengthening glass, which eventually led to development of the highly recognized tableware, Corelle.
Armistead’s accomplishments would later push him through the ranks of the company. He would later serve as director of R&D, head of technical staff, and as vice chairman at Corning. His contributions to Corning as an engineer as well as an administrator have had a lasting affect on Corning’s innovative culture.