Beckman’s pH meter is an integral tool for many industries today because it measures the pH of soil and water. Various industries use the pH meter on a daily basis. Chemical companies use the pH meter for the production of almost all chemical products, and textile companies use pH meters to determine the durability and safety of a synthetic product. These meters are also used by power companies to measure the pH of water for efficiency and to measure the safety of drinking water by governments.
Born in Cullom, Illinois, Beckman received his B.S. in 1922 and M.S. in 1923 from the University of Illinois. After serving as Research Engineer for the Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York for two years, he pursued further graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology and received his Ph.D. in 1928. He became an assistant professor there in 1929, resigning in 1940 to devote all of his time to the development and manufacture of scientific instruments for use in chemical laboratories and in chemical process control. He founded Beckman Instruments Inc. in 1935 with the development of the first Beckman instrument, the pH meter. In 1940 he developed the helical potentiometer, another precision electronic component, and the quartz spectrophotometer. Today the Beckman Instrument Company is a leading manufacturer of instrumentation and related scientific products used widely in medicine, science, industry, environmental pollution control, education, space exploration, and many other fields. Beckman has received numerous honorary degrees and awards. He founded the Instrument Society of America. The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has contributed substantially to the advancement of education and research. The foundation's philanthropy is reflected in the many medical and scientific institutions that bear the Beckman name.