John T. Parsons

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Manufacturing

For their development and successful demonstration of the numerically-controlled machine tool for the production of three-dimensional shapes, which has been essential for the production of commercial airliners and which is seminal for the growth of the robotics, CAD-CAM, and automated manufacturing industries.

For their development and successful demonstration of the numerically-controlled machine tool for the production of three-dimensional shapes, which has been essential for the production of commercial airliners and which is seminal for the growth of the robotics, CAD-CAM, and automated manufacturing industries.

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Birth
October 11, 1913
Age Awarded
72
Awarded With
Frank L. Stulen
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Revolutionized Production Of Cars And Airplanes With Numerical Controls For Machines
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
John T. Parsons Company
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
J

John Parson’s first memory was filing a piece of iron at the age of 3. He learned to tell metals by their smell-- the way some people can distinguish flowers. Parsons' career spanned 60 years of creative problem solving, and he sought to affect and improve all phases of manufacturing, from new materials to new ways to settle labor negotiations.

Parsons, along with his friend Frank Stulen, envisioned a new concept of manufacturing — metalworking using numerical control-- the precursor of today's computer aided manufacturing. Together, they were the first to use computer methods to solve machining problems, specifically, the curves of helicopter rotor blades. For 40 years, he worked at Parsons Corporation, which became a world leader in production of helicopter blades, and produced fuel tanks for the Saturn rockets that took astronauts to the moon.

Parsons's breakthroughs in computerized manufacturing led to the development of Computer Numerical Control (CNC), which controls the automation of machine tools and tool processes. CNC continues to be used for any processes that can be carried on machine tool motion platforms.

By Jen Santisi

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