A design recognized around the world
It all started with a little device called a "damper flapper," which helped to regulate a room's temperature-—especially important for those who wished to sleep through the night without having to adjust their furnaces. The damper flapper was invented by Albert Butz, who sold his patents to a company that in turn was bought by William R. Sweatt, who merged his company with one founded by Mark Honeywell, all leading to the eventual founding of Honeywell, Inc., one of Minnesota's oldest and most successful businesses.
Honeywell is notable for all sorts of reasons, but none is more significant than the development of the T86 Round—-the round thermostat introduced in 1953. Through an aggressive advertising campaign that advanced the Honeywell Round as the perfect complement to streamlined, post-World War II homes, the company's little wonder soon made its way into millions of American homes. Today a digital version remains a top seller, and the original design was included in a 1997 exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.
The Honeywell Round's distinctive look and user-friendly dimensions were the brainchild of Henry Dreyfuss, who also designed telephones for Bell (including the famous Princess phone), tractors for John Deere, and cameras for Polaroid. Dreyfuss was a practical, form-follows-function type who designed with real people and real homes in mind. "If people are made safer, more comfortable, more eager to purchase, more efficient—-or just plain happier—-the designer has succeeded," he wrote. Based on those criteria, the Honeywell T86 Round is a smash.
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