Walter Kistler

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Walter Kistler "was born in Biel, Switzerland, in 1918, the third of three children born to Hermann Kistler, a lawyer, and Marguerite Jeanneret, a nurse. He studied sciences at the University of Geneva and earned a master’s degree in physics from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

"In 1944, at age 26, Mr. Kistler went to work for the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, Winterthur, and subsequently spent several years as the head of its Instrumentation Lab. During this time, he pioneered a new measurement technology using Piezo-electric quartz crystals as the transduction element in accelerometers, load cells, and pressure gauges. This new technology made possible his own invention of a charge amplifier that could handle the very high impedance signals obtained from such sensors. In 1980 he received the prestigious Albert F. Sperry Award from the Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society (ISA) for these achievements.

"In 1951 Mr. Kistler moved to the United States, where he joined Bell Aircraft, Buffalo, NY. At Bell, he invented and developed a pulse constraint servo-accelerometer that was later used in the guidance of the Agena space rocket. For this work, he received the 1968 Aerospace Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), recognizing “his pioneering effort in the development of high-performance aerospace instrumentation.”

"Wishing to further pursue his work in quartz instrumentation, Mr. Kistler inaugurated in 1957 stler Instrument Corporation, which became a world leader in the development of quartz sensors. One of the major innovations under his supervision was the invention and development of the Piezotron, a semiconductor module that made a high-impedance quartz sensor to a low-impedance instrument. Several accelerometers of this type were used in the Apollo manned spaceflight project. Through these inventions, Kistler Instrument Corporation acquired a worldwide reputation.

"Following the sale of Kistler Instrument Corporation in 1970, Mr. Kistler moved to Seattle, WA, and, with his partner, Charles Morse, founded Kistler-Morse Corporation. In a development effort spanning several years, Kistler-Morse created the new technology of bolt-on weighing, based on Kistler’s invention of the Microcell, an extremely sensitive semiconductor strain sensor. Mr. Kistler subsequently designed and developed a number of additional instruments: load stands, load blocks, and load discs for monitoring the contents of vessels through direct weighing. In 1982, he was named an ISA Fellow for his contributions in the field of sensor development. He also became a member of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) committee that established standards for pressure sensor testing.

"Over the years, Mr. Kistler has played a key role in the startup of several high-technology companies either as a Director or as Chairman. These companies include Kistler Products, SRS, ICI, Interpoint, Paroscientific, and SPACEHAB, Inc. In 1993 he co-founded Kistler Aerospace Corporation (Kirkland, WA) to pursue his lifelong dream of designing and building a totally reusable space vehicle. The company is developing the world’s first reusable launch vehicles to reduce the cost of access to space by 80 to 90 percent. The reusable system will be capable of launching Earth satellites into low Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit, geosynchronous orbit, and even on escape trajectories to the Moon and the planets.

"In 1996, Mr. Kistler established the Foundation For the Future, a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge concerning the long-term future of humanity. Walter Kistler is a life member of the Swiss Physical Society and a member of AIAA and ISA, which presented him the Life Achievement Award in 2000. He is listed in American Men of Science, Who’s Who in Aviation, Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, and Who’s Who in the World. He is the owner of more than 50 US and foreign patents and the author of a number of papers published in scientific and trade journals. His book Reflections on Life was published in 2003." [1]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. About the Foundation, Foundation for the Future, accessed September 3, 2007.