1962 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"With so many people looking for jobs today, the key to success is to be persistent."
The son of an electrician, Edward White was born in 1928 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He developed an early passion for ham radios and received his license at age 12. He was a bright student and pursued an accelerated academic program at Tufts University. He began working at age 13, selling newspapers and magazines in downtown Boston. When he was 14, his mother died and he was left on his own most of the time. At 15, he began working at various labs at Harvard. He graduated from Tufts at the age of 19 with a degree in engineering. He continued as a research assistant after graduation, working on one of the two earliest electronic computers in history.
White spent four years at ITT, where he discovered a need for mechanisms for the analog computer. In 1951, at the age of 23, he scraped together $5,000 and set up shop in a garage to make those mechanisms. Fortunately, he had attended a high school that offered machine shop training and this gave him the skills to start before he hired his first employee. His company, Bowmar Instrument Corporation, introduced to the market the first pocket calculator in 1971. The calculator, called the Bowmar Brain, was an instant success. In 1988, his company merged with another and is now called White Electronic Designs. White serves as vice chairman. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, White's company also has operations in Massachusetts, Indiana, and Oregon.
In business for 50 years, White says, "Success is believing that you are successful." His Horatio Alger Award came to him at an early age. He tells young people to be persistent in their quest for a career. "Study hard, work hard, and enjoy yourself," he says. "Keep searching for the truth. Keep looking for joy in life."