It’s 1925 and a manager at General Electric known as W.I. Enfield has a special job for a new employee, Marvin Pipkin. He asks the latter to solve an age-old light bulb problem – create a durable frosted bulb that didn’t filter out too much light. Nobody had ever managed to do that, so giving the job to new staff was almost a practical joke. But Pipkin takes it on with his customary determination – and Enfield was in for a big surprise.
But before we describe the surprise that was heading Enfield’s way, let’s get to know Pipkin a little better. Marvin Pipkin was born in the Christina district, just to the south of the city of Lakeland, Florida, in 1889. His father was Daniel M. Pipkin, a farmer who became the first to plant the first citrus trees in Christina and Medulla.
Pipkin’s mother was Sarah Catherine and she and Daniel had six children together, with Marvin coming in at number four. The young Pipkin’s early education was at Lakeland’s elementary school and from there he went on to high school in Bartow, Florida. He’s said even then to have shown a particular aptitude for chemistry.