Harry Rubinstein … Engineer, Inventor, Entrepreneur

Inventor of the PEC, Centralab employee Harry Rubinstein, passes away

August 17, 1990 (PD: 201608)


Harry Rubinstein (1905-1990)

Harry W. Rubinstein, an electrical engineer with Globe-Union’s Centralab division from 1927 to 1946, passed away on August 17, 1990.

While at Centralab, Rubinstein was credited with inventing numerous devices, including a combined on-off/volume switch and a slide volume control, both for radio receivers.  He also worked on improving other company products such as storage batteries, spark plugs, and roller skates.  However, his best-known invention was the printed electronic circuit (PEC).

The PEC was developed during World War II by Globe for the National Bureau of Standards as a way to reduce the size of electronic equipment by eliminating wires.  The first application of the PEC was in proximity fuzes in mortar shells.  After the war, PECs were used in a number of products such as hearing aids, televisions, electric razors, cameras, and stereos.

Rubinstein left Centralab in 1946 to found his own company, Herlec Corp., which produced ceramic capacitors for use with PECs.  Herlec was bought out two years later by Sprague of Wisconsin, of which Rubinstein served as president until his retirement in 1971.

In 1984, Rubinstein was given the Cledo Brunetti Award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for his invention of the printed electronic circuit.

Johnson Controls acquired Centralab in 1978 with the Globe-Union merger, but subsequently sold the division to North American Phillips Corp. in 1980.