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Friday, December 12, 2008

Hewlett & Packard, Bacon & Morgan

Earlier this week, Merc columnist Mike Cassidy wrote a touching tribute to entrepreneurial engineer Karl Bacon, who died Nov. 14 at age 98:
In 1946, Bacon and partner Ed Morgan opened the Arrow Development Co. in Mountain View. The two were a tight team who started out doing some machine work for HP and just about anything else that would bring cash through the door. Bacon was the math mind, a self-taught engineer who tended to figure out what needed to be made while Morgan concentrated on how to manufacture it.

Then Morgan got the idea that they could build a merry-go-round for the city of San Jose, which they did. Soon a man named Walt Disney was talking to them about coming up with some rides for a new park he was opening in Anaheim. They did that, too.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, It's a Small World, Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and more.

"They did most of the rides in Fantasyland," says Jane Bacon, 87, Karl's wife of 67 years.
The article goes on to talk about all their other major contributions to amusement park rides. While we don’t think of this as a high tech business, during its heyday 40-50 years ago, this was obviously state of the art.

Other tributes on the Internet include a discussion of their Matterhorn design, and the bio on Amusement Today, and a review of the book about them. Amazon also sells that book, which documents their 20 year relationship with Uncle Walt and his fantasy-land.