Kettering, Charles (Franklin)(1876–1958) engineer, inventor; born near Loudonville, Ohio. A 1904 graduate of Ohio State University, he worked for the National Cash Register Co. until 1909, when he and a partner, Edward A. Deeds, set up the Dayton Engineering Laboratories Co., later known as Delco. Kettering developed the first electrical ignition system and the first self-starter for automobiles, a device that made him famous as an inventor. He sold Delco to General Motors (GM) in 1916. In 1920 he became president and general manager of the General Motors Research Corp., a GM division, and for the next 30 years he led teams that developed improved motor fuels, shock absorbers, variable speed transmissions, safety glass, and the refrigerant Freon. Kettering retired from GM in 1947. With Alfred Sloan, he endowed the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.