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Joseph Worth, an inventor and engineer who over the course of a decade helped design and build the radial, air-cooled “J-type” engine that powered Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927, died in Florida at 98 on this date in 1991. Worth was born in Kamanetz-Podolsk in the Ukraine and was a graduate of Cooper Union. He also designed the first safe pull-chain light switch, an industrial potato peeling machine, and a potato chip slicer. Referred to by a specialist at the National Air and Space Museum as “one of the great unknowns in the history of aviation,” Worth received little notice for his work because of the company mergers that cost him his job at the time of Lindbergh’s flight. Lindbergh went on to become an international hero — and, at the advent of World War II, a fascist sympathizer fond of blaming the rise of international tensions on the Jews.
“There are no real inventions. Not really. I don’t even like the word. There are only developments.” —Joseph Worth