I fractured my back a awhile ago, and the only mobility I had for a few years, was a wheelchair. That gave me the independence to go out and do my own grocery shopping, for instance. Those years are behind me, but the appreciation for the chair has stayed with me like a dear friend. When I’m downtown and I see people with an electric wheelchair, I smile inside, and say, “Go for it!” Quite the invention! So today, I would like to introduce you to George Johann Klein.
Klein was born on August 15, 1904 in Hamilton, Ontario. He struggled in high school to maintain a consisten grade C (that’s between 50 to 59%). Still, he did manage to attend University of Toronto, and became an inventor. Besides his key contributions to create the first electric wheelchairs for quadriplegics, he also invented the first microsurgical staple gun, the ZEEP nuclear reactor (Zero Energy Experimental Pile, the first atomic reactor outside the US.), the international system for classifying ground-cover snow, aircraft skis, the Weasel all-terrain vehicle, the STEM (Storable Tubular Extendible Member) antenna for the space program, and the Canadarm.
He worked for forty years as a mechanical engineer at the National Research Council of Canada laboratories in Ottawa from 1929 to 1969.
In 1968, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He died on November 4, 1992, at the age of 88, in
Ottawa, Ontario. In 1995, he was inducted to the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame.
If you wanted to read about George Johann Klein, I would suggest the book: George J. Klein: the Great Inventor. For more information on the Internet, I would suggest the Canada Science and Technology Museum.