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William S. James (1892-1964) became an engineering student at the George Washington University in 1910, and joined the staff of the National Bureau of Standards the following year. He later worked for Studebaker and the Ford Motor Company, and served as President of Society of Automotive Engineers.
In 1924, automotive engineers connected with the National Bureau of Standards used the new James Brake Inspection Decelerometer to test the brakes of cars randomly selected. James received a patent on the form in 1928. This example is marked “James Brake Inspection Decelerometer, American Instrument Co., Washington, D.C. No. 808.”
The American Instrument Co. was organized in 1919, with the aim of producing instruments developed at the National Bureau of Standards. It began business in Washington, D.C., and later moved to Silver Spring, Md.
Ref: “Expert Workers for Uncle Sam. XLII. W. S. James,” Washington Post (Feb. 29, 1924), p. 6.
“Brake Tests Investigated,” Los Angeles Times (Aug. 24, 1924), p. G10.
William S. James, “Decelerometer or the Like,” U.S. Patent 1,668,809 (May 8, 1928).
“William James, 71, Research Engineer,” New York Times (March 1, 1964), p. 83.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
American Instrument Company
place made
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
overall: 4 1/4 in x 7 in x 7 in; 10.795 cm x 17.78 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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National Museum of American History
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