Thursday, August 10, 2006

Inventor Dies

James A. Van Allen, 91, who invented the famous white belt that made the polyester leisure suit the hallmark of the early ‘70s, has died after a heart attack August 9 at a hospital in Iowa.

Van Allen’s creation actually allowed the leisure suit to reach its fullest potential, the Full Cleveland. As one commentator has noted, “…your basic 70s traveling salesman stereotypical getup [included a] brightly-colored polyester leisure suit, shiny white belt and shoes, clashing colors...”

Mild and unassuming, the inventor/scientist was always secretly disappointed that he did not get credit for his fashion statement. He had to settle for his fame as the discoverer of the Earth-circling radiation belts that bear his name. He also sent spacecraft instruments to observe the outer reaches of the solar system. Far better known as an early pioneer in US space exploration, his obituary is here.

Photo from with thanks.


MJ Martin said...

Oh, that was soooooo bad it was good. Nice commentary RLB!

Don said...

Good one, and to think I had several of his belts. But I have to wonder, would I want to be known for radiation belts or white belts??? It is a toss up. ~ Pato