Bill Parker (inventor)
William P. (Bill) Parker is an artist, scientist, and entrepreneur, best known for inventing the modern design of the plasma lamp. The invention occurred in 1971, when Parker was working as a student in a physics laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and accidentally filled a test chamber to a greater-than-usual pressure with ionized neon and argon. Three years later, Parker was artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and created two installations using this technology, entitled Quiet Lightning and AM Lightning.
Parker has also exhibited at the MIT Museum, the New York Hall of Science, and the Housatonic Museum at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was the youngest Fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. Plasma globes based on his designs were commercially popular in the 1980s and “are found in nearly every science museum in the world.”
In the 1980s, Parker founded Diffraction Ltd, a defense electro-optics developer that was purchased by the O'Gara Group in 2005. and in 2006 he spun off another company, Creative MicroSystems, focusing on microfluidics. He maintains a studio in Waitsfield, Vermont, and in 2008 he was elected to the Waitsfield select board.
Bill Parker currently lectures worldwide on the intersection of art and technology, with an emphasis on light, laser holography and microelectronics.
- Gache, Gabriel (January 31, 2008), "How do Plasma Lamps Work", Softpedia
- Wolf, Lauren (October 27, 2008), "Plasma Globes: Inert gases and electricity combine to generate colored streamers of light", Chemical & Engineering News.
- The Artists-In-Residence Program at the Exploratorium.
- AM Lightning by Bill Parker, The Exploratorium.
- Cole, K. C. (July 9, 1978), "San Francisco's Scientific Fun House", New York Times.
- "On The Town", The Tech, September 2, 1994.
- Davis, William A. (February 1, 1997), "Hi-Tech Hijinks: The MIT Museum Makes Science Into Family Fun", Boston Globe.
- Malina, Roger (June 1995), "Exhibit Review: MIT Museum Holograms", Leonardo Electronic Almanac 3 (6).
- "See how far an idea can go", OpenDoor: the Arts (MIT Alumni Association), February 2001[dead link].
- Funke, Phyllis (April 7, 1974), "Science Is Blended With Art in Display", New York Times.
- Raynor, Vivien (January 12, 1992), "Sculpture Show Fills the Housatonic Museum's New Gallery", New York Times.
- Exhibit artists – Bill Parker, The Exploratorium.
- "And now, son of Lava Lamp", Miami Herald, November 10, 1984
- "Playthings meant for grownups", Philadelphia Inquirer, November 7, 1986.
- Vermont Inventor Offers Leahy Panel Advice On Patent Reform, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, April 25, 2005.
- Pellett, Dorothy (September 10, 2007), "Invention is the soul of Creative MicroSystems", Burlington Free Press.
- "O'Gara Group Makes Second Acquisition In Optics Area", Defense Daily, May 31, 2005.
- "Parker runs for select board in Waitsfield", Valley Reporter, February 14, 2008.
- Town of Waitsfield, Vermont – Select Board. Retrieved December 18, 2008.