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Fluorescence to the Rescue | Move to the NIH | Anything Glows | AMINCO Steps In | Nobel Prize Winner | Fluorescence News
image of molecule AMINCO Steps In

r. Bowman had to improvise with his design. Authorized only to buy one expensive monochromator, for example, he built the other one from parts he obtained from his contacts in the New York junk shop trade. One of his parts, a Steinheil quartz prism spectrograph, had been "liberated" from Germany during the war. He made his first prototype SPF with a mixture of used and new parts, including diffraction gratings and mirrors attached to a stone benchtop and "glued" in place with wax."

Because of exciting results with the prototype, the American Instrument Company (AMINCO) of nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, became interested in marketing the new instrument. The company assigned an engineer, Hugh Howerton, to collaborate with Dr. Bowman on a commercial version of the SPF-one that could be made without wax and war relics. The first AMINCO-Bowman SPF was exhibited at the 1956 Pittsburgh Analytical Instrument Conference.

In order to build interest in its product and promote research in the field of fluorescence, AMINCO funded a postdoctoral fellowship in fluorescence analysis for research at the National Heart Institute. The first AMINCO fellow, Dr. Daniel Duggan, studied hundreds of fluorescent compounds. His research convinced Dr. Bowman and AMINCO that they should proceed with the production of the SPF.


AMINCO sold out its initial run of twenty-five instruments


He made his first prototype SPF with a mixture of used and new parts.

Symposium about the SPF

AMINCO engineer Hugh Howerton presenting a symposium about the SPF. Dr. Bowman is seated in the front row

Dr. Duggan with SPF prototype

Dr. Daniel Duggan, a postdoctoral fellow at NHI, with the first laboratory prototype of the SPF


In the 1950s and 1960s, AMINCO marketed the SPF to the research field. Company sales representatives traveled across the country to train university faculty and other scientists how to use the instrument. The company even launched a newsletter called Fluorescence News.
AMINCO sold out its initial run of twenty-five instruments, an impressive record in the tiny biomedical research market.


AMINCO brochure, image 1
AMINCO brochure, image 2

This Aminco sales bulletin from 1956 advertised "A New Analytical Instrument." Click on image to flip through the pages of the bulletin

Aminco showcased new features of the SPF in this 1971 sales catalog. Click on image to flip through the pages of the catalog

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