Henry Winston Mergler was born on June 1st, 1924 in Ohio, and was educated at MIT, Brown University and the then Case Institute of Technology, where he earned a PhD. His professional career began with the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory, where he designed NACA’s first large computer facility. In 1948, Dr. Mergler created the first documented coupling of a computer with a remote machine tool, an operation he worked to perfect over his year at NACA until he returned to Case in 1957. During the period 1950-1957 Dr. Mergler moved into the emerging digital technology and continued his computer-controlled system research. Significant contributions made by Dr. Mergler during this period include the optical tape reader, the ultra-high speed hybrid multiplier, methods for digital frequency division and smoothing, and linear and conic interpolators operating in the incremental digital mode. During the 1960s Dr. Mergler's research was centered on the controlled manipulation of robotic devices for handling radioactive material in the Space Nuclear Propulsion Program. Dr. Mergler and his graduate students developed the computer-control techniques which resulted in the “Case Arm" with its seven articulated axes operating under coordinated computer control. This project and its by-products culminated in a multi-axis, self-adaptive, learning and seeing manipulator which performed the dis-assembly and reassembly of an A-5 nuclear reactor core placed in a random orientation. Dr. Mergler selected the ailing U.S. shipbuilding industry as one where he felt the introduction of modern computer-control technology might solve some of the industry's competitive problems. This work resulted in a self-adaptive, computer-controlled cold forming system which permitted the precise fabrication of ship frame structures at a speed and a degree of accuracy never before obtained by the then current fabrication methods. This system is now in construction in massive scale for the U.S. Navy.
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