History Station 1 – Our City’s Namesake

CFKetteringSept1954Charles F. Kettering was born on August 29, 1876 on a farm in Loudonville, Ohio.  Kettering grew up on a farm, not realizing he was underprivileged.  He enjoyed walking the cows to the pasture in the cold and walking three miles to school.  He lookeAd for opportunity in everything he did. In 1896, at age 20 Kettering started at the College of Wooster to study Greek, but had to drop out due to extreme nearsightedness which caused him to have painful headaches.  When his eye sight improved he was able to start teaching in Mifflin, Ohio.  While in Mifflin he met John Robinson who owned Robinson’s Drug Store and the two conducted experiments in the backroom during their free time.

Charles Kettering’s dream was to attend college, by 1898 he was able to enroll in The Ohio State University’s School of Engineering in Columbus, Ohio only to have to withdraw again due to his eyesight.  Kettering went to work for the Star Telephone Company in Ashland, Ohio where he worked as telephone lineman.  While in Ashland, Charles met Olive Williams, who would later become his wife. During his time at Star Telephone Company, Kettering’s eyesight improved again as a result of the lack of close work and he was once again able to enroll at The Ohio State University in 1901; Kettering was 25.  Kettering’s roommates helped protect his eyes by reading each lesson to him out loud at night.

In 1904, at the age of 27, just before graduating from college, Kettering was offered a job at the National Cash Register Company (NCR) in Dayton, Ohio.  While at NCR, Kettering created the O.K. Credit System, which allowed a sales clerk at the cash register to verify a customer’s credit from a remote location.  In 1906 Kettering was able to electrify the cash register, removing the hand crank and making the cash register more marketable and user friendly.