For Carbon-14 discoverer, see Sam Ruben.

Samuel Ruben (14 July 1900 – 16 July 1988) was an American inventor who made lasting contributions to electrochemistry and solid-state technology, including the founding of Duracell.

Early life

Samuel Ruben got his start in electronics when he became a licensed ham radio operator and built radios with spare parts. Samuel Ruben met Professor Bergen Davis of Columbia University who tutored him and allowed him to sit in on some Columbia classes. He also taught at Harvard as a lecturer in chemistry.

While he had no college degree, withdrawing from college after a short time due to stress,[1] Ruben received several honorary degrees. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Columbia University in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Science where he was a Senior Staff Associate.[citation needed]

Company history

Samuel Ruben established Ruben Laboratories in the early 1920s, when Bergen Davis persuaded Electrochemical's main investor Malcolm Clephane to finance a private laboratory for Ruben in lower Manhattan. Ruben moved himself and the lab to New Rochelle, New York, where he would stay for the next 60 years.[2][3] Clephane would finance the project for 50% of any future royalties. Throughout his lifetime his work accumulated over 300 patents.[2] Ruben teamed with Philip Mallory to create what would become Duracell International. Ruben developed the mercury button cell in 1942 to replace the zinc-carbon batteries at a request from the Army Signal Corps.

With over 100 inventions credited to him personally, one of the most important was the dry electrolytic aluminum capacitor,[4] the solid-state magnesium/cupric sulfide rectifier (a device that converted regular household electric current for use in radios), and the vacuum tube relay, the quick heater vacuum tube, and the concept of a balanced-cell mercury battery.

Ruben worked as a researcher from 1918-1921 for the Electrochemical Products Company. He endowed a scholarship for Chemical Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (1968–1972).

He was awarded the Acheson Award by the Electrochemical Society in 1970. [5]


Samuel Ruben published multiple books,

  • "Handbook of the Elements" - A unique way he chose to display the elements.
  • "Necessity's Children: Memoirs of an Independent Inventor" - An autobiography.
  • "The Founders of Electrochemistry"
  • "The Electronics of Materials"
  • "The Evolution of Electric Batteries in Response to Industrial Needs"


  1. ^ Smithsonian. "Papers of Samuel Ruben, 1932-1984". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  2. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn (20 July 1988). "Samuel Ruben, 88, an Inventor Noted for Electrochemical Work". New York Times (New York Times). Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  3. ^ “The Wizard of New Rochelle,” Business Week (4 Nov. 1967), 69.
  4. ^ US Patent Nr. 1774455, Electric condenser, eingereicht 19. Oktober 1925, erteilt am 26. August 1930
  5. ^ "Edward Goodrich Acheson Award Recipients". Electrochemical Society. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Franklin Laureate Database - Edward Longstreth Medal 1972 Laureates". Franklin Institute. Retrieved November 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c Batteries International & 2009, pp. 54-56.
  8. ^ The Telegraph 1986, pp. 17.