After the death of Norman L. Dean, in 1972, his son, Norman R. “Bob” Dean was appointed Trustee in Trust of the Dean collection. The collection includes all of the inventor’s notes, correspondences, diaries, contracts, original models, photo’s and drawings. Since 1982, the collection has been sorted, and is in the process of being indexed for the use of Dean researchers.
Norman L. Dean’s career was as the Deputy Chief Appraiser for the US Federal Housing Administration in Washington DC. His off hours were devoted to Theoretical Physics and mechanical engineering.
One day at home he read an article of great interest to him regarding gyroscopes and their future, especially in navigation. He was fascinated by the “Precession Problem”. He was confident and determined that he could understand and solve the mystery of gyroscopic precession.
Dean’s very first breakthrough in 1943, was the first mechanical , non-precessing gyroscope. Awed by the significance of the ability to remove precession, he immediately went to work on designing the first navigation system using this remarkable breakthrough. Too late to aid the war effort, by 1946- his “Stellar Spatial Inertial Gyroscope” (coined by Charles Stark Draper of MIT) was shopped to the major research institutions of the day.
With post war funding cuts, the newly developed Office of Naval Research (ONR) had been approached for development of the device and supporting systems. After long and trying negotiations, the ONR implied they were prepared to take the device under “the act” The US law that allowed seizure of patentable ideas and systems regarding “National Security”. Den’s attorney, General Seems, Patton’s former CID officer, approached the navy with a unique value proposition- Dean would sell the right to develop the device to the US navy for the princely sum of $1. The contract stipulated that the rights to the device, including all improvements, were to revert back to Dean, should the device find it’s way outside the military establishment into the commercial sector. Along with his future right to patent the device, Dean felt secure with this arrangement.
In due course, the system, found it’s way to Charles Stark Draper at MIT- who later was given credit (erroneously by Alsop) for development of the “first non-precessing gyroscope”. Draper was bound by contract and convention, while he never personally, publicly, took the credit, he also never denied it.
This website is dedicated to the Memory and Achievements of Norman L. Dean, by his family. And also to the enterprising initiative of inventors everywhere, who have been tricked, duped, swindled, injured, threatened or even killed, in their efforts to advance science and the plight of mankind.