KEMET was founded before there was such a thing as the ‘electronics industry,’ back when radio was new, space travel was the stuff of schoolboy fantasy, and the internet would have seemed a madman’s dream. In the first decades of the twentieth century, mechanical inventions, electricity, and chemical engineering were all emergent, but still highly experimental fields, pioneered by an enterprising generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. The man who created the company that would become KEMET was Hugh Spencer Cooper (1885-1971).
Cooper was fascinated with the possibilities locked inside of rare metals. As such, early in his career, he developed alloys that could serve as electrical conductors. Encouraged by his success, he invented more alloys, including “Cooperite,” which was the first alloy to use the element zirconium. These innovations and his exploration of beryllium caught the attention of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), who purchased Cooper’s laboratory and introduced KEMET as a research lab, with Cooper at the helm.
But behind the driven and fascinating inventor was a family man. Hugh S. Cooper imparted values that are still part of KEMET today. Our core values of ethics & integrity as well as materials innovation can be traced back to the founder of KEMET.
Aside from the company, Cooper also left behind a family legacy. Watch his grandson, Hugh H. Cooper reflect on his grandfather’s contribution to society and his lessons that live on.