Robert W. Gore
Robert W. Gore invented a new form of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) widely known by the GORE-TEX® brand name. This highly porous yet very strong material is chemically inert, functions within a wide range of temperatures, and is weatherproof. Valued by outdoor enthusiasts as durable, wind-resistant, waterproof and breathable, GORE-TEX® materials have also found applications in hundreds of medical, industrial, electrical and textile products.
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Gore pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware. As a college sophomore in 1957, he discovered a way to use PTFE tape to insulate wires and cables. In a 1969 experiment, Gore rapidly stretched heated rods of PTFE and created expanded PTFE, which was given the GORE-TEX® brand name.
Gore completed his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, earning an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. He spent his career at W. L. Gore & Associates, the company founded by his parents to develop PTFE-insulated cable based upon his first invention. In his tenure as president from 1976 to 2000, he guided the company from a wire and cable manufacturer into a diverse billion-dollar enterprise. He also served as chairman of the company's board of directors.