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Home : Volume 25 : Fall 1998 :
Distinguished Service Award for Bennett H. Tollefson

Bennett H. Tollefson

Bennett H. Tollefson
(26K JPG)

You could say Bennett H. Tollefson worked in the entertainment business in the '40s. Actually, Tollefson, who earned his BS in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison, developed more efficient TV, radio and projector parts used in the '40s and for years to come. Tollefson's developments helped pave the way for future advances in broadcast devices.

In 1942, he began his technical career with General Electric Company in test engineering and later moved into marketing. He also worked as a high vacuum engineer for the Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1951, Tollefson opened a consulting and engineering representative business in Rochester, New York. There he worked with OEM as a consultant until his retirement in 1986. In 1955, Tollefson bought a small plastic molding company that utilized nylon to mold precision parts for automotive, computer and major industrial customers.

Among Tollefson's many technical developments throughout his career, he first designed electromechanical contacts for Stromberg Carlson, Eastman Kodak and GE. These replaced a two-piece assembly with a one-piece design and were manufactured utilizing progressive and multi-slide tooling. His design eventually combined an assembly of eight contacts plus one plastic bobbin that were integrated automatically.

He also designed and manufactured a one-piece contact for 120-voltage plugs, which is used to provide power to televisions, radios and Kodak slide projectors.

Among some of Tollefson's other developments were electromechanical clutches and brakes for starting and stopping paper and film, moving them precise distances with essentially zero tolerance. In addition, he developed the "spark gap" to protect TV picture tubes from voltage spikes.

Some of Tollefson's other interests include serving as president of the Rochester Hemophilia Association for two years and as a board member for six years.


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