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Nederlandse laboratoria 1860-1940, een kwantitatief overzicht

Author(s): J.J. Hutter

Journal: Tijdschrift voor de Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde, Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Techniek
ISSN 0167-2088

Volume: 9;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 150;
Date: 1986;
Original page

Keywords: Laboratories | Quantitative survey | Netherlands

Dutch laboratories 1860-1940. a quantitative survey Based on periodicals, yearbooks and memorial volumes an overview is given of the rise of Dutch laboratories between 1860 and 1940. This literature, however, does not permit to formulate exact criteria for further classification of the laboratories mentioned. Therefore, every laboratory mentioned as such has been taken into account, regardless of the kind of work carried out there, its physical size or content, quantity or quality of staff. Much research will be required to show what kind of work exactly w'as done in the laboratories before 1940. The sources produced reliable data on the years of foundation of State and semi-State laboratories and laboratories belonging to societies, foundations and institutions of higher education. Great uncertainties still exist in the cases of private and industrial laboratories. It is clear, however, that by 1940 fifty to one hundred industrial research and development laboratories existed in The Netherlands and at least a few hundred industrial control laboratories. The majority of all laboratories — industrial and non-industrial — were engaged in chemical work. In 1915 some 350 scientists were employed in the Dutch industry, while their number had grown to about 1800 in 1940. Of them a great number were chemists (300). about equal to the number of electrical and chemical engineers in industry. The number of other university graduates, like physicists, pharmacists and biologists, in industry was much less: of each of these groups not more than fifty were employed there. Within industry most chemists and chemical engineers were employed in chemical companies, while most physicists, electrical and physical engineers within industry were employed in the electrical companies. Only the mechanical engineers were equally distributed among the different branches of industry. There exists a positive relationship between the number of scientists and the number of (research and development) laboratories in a branch of industry. Branches of industry that had many scientists as well as many laboratories were: producers of incandescent lamps and electrical household devices, oil/margarine/dairy-products, rayons and pharmaceutical products. Most companies that employed very many scientists already before 1940, now belong to the Dutch 'Great Five': Philips, Shell, AKZO, DSM and Unilever, It is concluded that especially in those branches of industry joint laboratories were established where companies themselves were too small to establish a well equipped laboratory of their own.
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