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"Grandfather of NIST"NIST's roots are in the Treasury Department’s Office of Weights and Measures established in 1836, whose first superintendent was Swiss surveyor Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler. From a wealthy family, the NIST history book Measures for Progress says, “he was destined by events to a life of unending storm and stress.” Hassler moved to the U.S. and lost most of his fortune. Years later, when surveying U.S. custom houses, Hassler found disarray and developed his own standard measures, formally approved by Congress in 1836. From Measures for Progress: “His genius lay… in his tireless efforts to contrive the best possible standards of weights and measures with the best possible materials.” Hassler laid the strong foundation that NIST builds on today. The NIST Digital Archives include the Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler Photographic Collection.
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