National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Medical Sciences Search this
11 Cubic feet (29 boxes, 1 map folder)
Scope and Contents note:
Halkett and Wesolow(ski) materials show the process of technological innovation through laboratory protocols. They also demonstrate the various alternatives explored in the search for effective artificial circulation by using materials which would not damage or clot blood and that could be sterilized. The evolution of the pumping mechanism and power source, the design and materials of the pump itself, and a series of catheters (cannulae) or varying shapes and materials are described as a workable solution is found. Secondly, diversity of techniques developed to solve the problems of artificial circulation and their contributions to that work are documented.
The 2018 addenda documents the life and career of physicist James A.E. Halkett. It includes papers relating to his education, his U.S. Navy service, his work with various employers, and his research in various fields including radio, metallurgy, ordnance, and radioactivity. Some of the papers relate to his work with General Electric in developing the proximity fuse. The papers include correspondence and notes, including lab notes, graphs and charts; reports; drawings; photographs; training and operational manuals; bibliographic card files; journals, conference materials and other publications; and miscellany.
The collection is organized into three series with subseries.
Subseries 1.4.4: Civil Defense and Medical and Health Services, circa 1950s
Subseries 1.4.5: Effects of the Atomic Bomb, circa 1945
Series 2: H.J. Sugarman Papers, 1950-1951
Series 3: Sigmund A. Wesolowski (Adam Wesolow) Papers, 1951
James Alexander Elder Halkett was born in 1920 in Scotland to inventor James Nicol Halkett, and Edith Victoria Elder. At age three, Halkett immigrated to the United States with his family. He attended Wooster College from 1938-1942 and graduated as the first student at the university to triple major in math, chemistry, and physics. Upon graduating from Wooster College, Halkett worked for the companies A.S. Campbell and General Electric before becoming a U.S. citizen in 1944 and immediately joining the U.S. Navy. During his time in the Navy, Halkett completed the intensive Electronics Training Program and attended the Pre-Radio School, Bliss Electrical School, and the Radio Materiel School. Halkett was stationed in Panama and served as a radio technician until 1946.
After discharge from the Navy in 1946, Halkett attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1946-1948 and earned his master's degree with his thesis titled "An Artificial Heart." At MIT he began to develop the early extracorporeal mechanical heart alongside his colleague Bill Sewell, which in 1948 became the first mechanical heart to successfully bypass the left side of a cat's heart. This work was continued at Tufts University from 1949-1950 alongside Dr. Sigmund A. Wesolowski, M.D. (now named Adam Wesolow), with the pair further modifying the cardiac pump which resulted in the long-term survival of animals after bypass surgery. Neither Halkett nor Wesolowski went on to develop this technology for trials with human subjects.
Halkett completed a predoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University from 1950-1952, where he expanded his interest in tissue culture and biophysics. Following his time at Johns Hopkins, he served as a Senior Biologist in the field of Radioisotopes at the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital until 1974. At the hospital, he conducted research on radiology, leukemia, and nuclear medicine. He also served as the hospital's Chief of Research in Animal Medicine, Science, and Technology (RILAMSAT) from 1968 to 1972. While working at the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital, Halkett earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University in 1964, where he was also a lecturer. Halkett died in 2015 at the age of 94.
Sigmund Adam Weslowski (1921-1993) was born in Massachusetts and attended Harvard University before servng as a midshipman in the Naval Reserve during World War II and later as a captain during the Korean War in the Army Medical Corps. He received a medical degree from Tufts College of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts and spent one year at Guy's Hospital in London under Lord Russell-Brock where he specialized in thoracic surgery. Wesolowski was Professor of Surgery at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. In the 1980s' he was chief thoracic surgeon at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Togus, Maine. Wesolowski helped devise a heart pump in the early days of open-heart surgery at Tufts University from 1949-1950 alongside Dr. James A.E. Halkett. The pair further modified the cardiac pump which resulted in the long-term survival of animals after bypass surgery.
Objects related to this collection (See accession 1985.0101.01–1985.0101.67) are located in the Division of Medicine and Science at the National Museum of American History. The objects relate to Halkett and Wesolow's early mechanical heart, and include valves, valve holders, valve chambers, pumps, pump parts,tubing, stroke chamber stoppers, reservoirs, cannulae, and cam systems.
Collection donated by James A. E. Halkett and Adam Wesolow (Sigmund A. Wesolowski), May 6, 1985.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
National Biomedical Research Foundation. Georgetown University Search this
3 Cubic feet
Motion pictures (visual works)
The Robert Ledley Papers document the development of the first whole-body diagnostic imaging system, the Automatic Computerized Transverse Axial (ACTA) X-ray Scanner by Ledley in 1973. Also included is material relating to Ledley's company, Digital Science Information Corporation (DISCO), as well as the public and medical communities' reactions to the scanner.
Scope and Contents:
The Robert Ledley Papers document the development of the Automatic Computerized Transverse Axial (ACTA) X-ray Scanner, Ledley's company Digital Science Information Corporation (DISCO), as well as the public and medical communities' reactions to the scanner. The collection is arranged into nine series.
Series 1, ACTA Scanner I Schematics, 1973-1975; Series 2, ACTA Scanner I [Computer and Electronics], 1973; and Series 3, ACTA Scanner Tomograph Mechanics, 1973-1974 document the development and design of the ACTA scanner through drawings, notes, memoranda, and product information. More detailed information about these materials is located in the control file. All oversize drawings have been moved to flat storage for preservation concerns.
Series 4, ACTA Scanner Operating Instructions, 1975, is the operating manual created for the scanner used in Ledley's Georgetown lab.
Series 5, ACTA Articles, Clippings, and Press Releases, 1973-1979, is comprised of the aforementioned materials relating to the ACTA Scanner. Newspaper clippings illuminate the public's perception of the scanner, and scientific pieces highlight the medical community's reaction. Ledley's published articles on the scanner and related topics are included.
Series 6, Digital Information Science Corporation (DISCO) material, 1973-1981, documents Ledley's career and his company. A biographical sketch, list of articles, textbooks, and patents highlight Ledley's achievements. Invoices, receipts, contracts, and correspondence illuminate the financial situation at DISCO and the relationship between the company and Pfizer.
Series 7, Computer manuals, 1972-1975, documents the computer systems and software that were used with the ACTA Scanner.
Series 8, Photographic material, 1973-1978, includes an album of photographs depicting the ACTA Scanner and images of the scans it created. This album was disassembled due to preservation concerns. This series also includes a collection of slides featuring the scanner and related equipment in use and images of the scans it created. A detailed description of each photograph and slide is included in the control file.
Series 9, ACTA Scanner film, [1974?], is a 16mm narrated film describing the creation of the scanner, its components, the way they work, the scanner in use, and images of the scans produced.
This collection is arranged into nine series.
Series 1, ACTA Scanner I Schematics, 1973-1975
Series 2, ACTA Scanner I [Computer and Electronics], 1973
Series 3, ACTA Scanner Tomograph Mechanics, 1973-1974
Series 4, ACTA Scanner Operating Instructions, 1975
Series 5, ACTA Articles, Clippings, and Press Releases, 1973-1979
Series 6, Digital Information Science Corporation (DISCO) material, 1973-1981, undated
Series 7, Computer manuals, 1972-1975
Series 8, Photographic material 1973-1978
Subseries 1, Photographs, 19731978
Subseries 2, Slides, 1974
Series 9, ACTA Scanner film [1974?]
Biographical / Historical:
Robert Steven Ledley was born in Flushing Meadows, New York in 1926. He received a D.D.S. degree from New York University College in 1948. While attending dental school, he simultaneously studied at Columbia University; he earned a M.A. in Theoretical Physics in 1949. He volunteered for the army and was sent to the U.S. Army Medical Field Service School in Fort Sam Houston, Texas.1 After completing his service, Ledley held a wide variety of research and academic positions in physics, electrical engineering, and medicine.
Ledley was a physicist within the External Control Group of the Electronic Computer Laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards from 1953-1954. He was an operations research analyst within the Strategic Division of the Operations Research Office at Johns Hopkins University from 1954-1956. Ledley went on to become an associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at The George Washington University from 1956-1960 while also serving as a consultant mathematician at the National Bureau of Standards Data Processing Systems Division, 1957-1960. At this time, Ledley also worked part time at the National Research Council's National Academy of Sciences from 1957-1961. Ledley became the president of the National Biomedical Research Foundation in 1960, a position he still holds today. He was an instructor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1960-1963. He returned to The George Washington University's Department of Electrical Engineering in 1968 where he was a professor until 1970. He then became a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1970. In 1974, Ledley also became a professor in the Radiology Department at the Georgetown University Medical Center. In 1975, he became the director of the Medical Computing and Biophysics Division at Georgetown University Medical Center.
In 1972, the British company Electric and Musical Industries Limited (EMI) released a medical imaging machine for use on smaller areas of the body that were positioned under a water tank. In 1973, Ledley developed the Automatic Computerized Transverse Axial (ACTA) X-ray Scanner (US Patent #3,922,552). This machine was a whole-body diagnostic medical imaging system. He was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health for an engineering equipment project, but the money was never received due to budget cuts. Ledley looked elsewhere for funding. He consulted with Georgetown staff and discovered a neurosurgeon had asked to buy a head scanning machine from EMI. Ledley did not think the images in EMI's brochure appeared clear, and he offered to create a similar machine for half the price. Georgetown agreed to fund this project for $250,000. Ledley secured the services of a machinist at a local machine shop, an electronic engineer, and a programmer/mathematician to assist in the project.2 The ACTA Scanner debuted in February, 1974 and did not require the use of a water tank.
Following the creation of the ACTA Scanner, Ledley organized Digital Information Science Corporation (DISCO) in order to manufacture the system. DISCO began producing scanners as orders were received. Due to financial constraints, DISCO was forced to request $100,000 upon receipt of the order, $100,000 when the scanner was halfway completed, and the final $100,000 payment upon delivery3. In 1975, Pfizer purchased the rights to manufacture the ACTA Scanner from DISCO for $1.5 million.
Ledley is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He has earned numerous awards and honors for his work. In 1997, he received the National Medal of Technology from President William Jefferson Clinton for his pioneering work on the whole-body CT diagnostic X-ray scanner. He also founded the Pattern Recognition Society and Computerized Tomography Society.
1 Ash, J., D. Sittig, and R. Ledley. "The Story Behind the Development of the First Whole-body Computerized Tomography Scanner as Told by Robert S. Ledley." Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 2006 Sep-Oct (2006), 465-469, http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1561796. (accessed June 24, 2009).
An ACTA Scanner and numerous accessories were donated to the Division of Medicine and Science in 1984.
This collection was donated by Robert S. Ledley on September 18, 1984.
The collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.